Nov 29, 2020 - Health

New York City to reopen public schools with weekly testing

Bill de Blasio in a suit
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio in New York on Nov. 28. Photo: Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images

Some New York City schools will be allowed to reopen for in-person learning as early as Dec. 7, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday.

The state of play: De Blasio said schools will no longer be forced to shutter when the city hits a 3% COVID-19 test positivity rate, but he did not specify what the new threshold will be. The school district will mandate weekly tests for 20% of children in each school, and students will not be tested before they return.

Details: Students in pre-kindergarten programs through fifth grade can return to in-person learning on Dec. 7, and special education students can return to classrooms on Dec. 10, de Blasio said.

  • All students returning to the classroom must have a signed consent form from their parents for weekly testing or proper medical exemption from a doctor.
  • Middle and high schools are not included in current plans to reopen. We're "not ready for those yet," de Blasio said, citing the high technical requirements of weekly testing for students.

What they're saying: "We are seeing cases rise across our city ... our schools have been remarkably safe," New York City schools chancellor Richard Carranza said at de Blasio's press conference.

  • "It's a new approach because we have so much proof now of how safe schools can be. And this has come from real-life experience in the biggest school system in America," de Blasio said.
  • “Now the goal is, this will be the model for the duration. This is what is going to take us through to when we have a vaccine.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo endorsed de Blasio's decision when speaking to reporters later on Sunday, saying: "I think that's the right direction."

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