The mayor of New York city in the United States, Bill de Blasio, announced on November 18, Wednesday, that all schools in the city will be closed until further notice from Thursday onwards due to rising cases of COVID-19 infections.
New York city was one of the first big school systems in the US to reopen in phases in September and early October after the first lockdown was declared on March 18. According to Blasio, in-person learning will be resumed as soon as possible if infection rates in the State drop significantly.
New York, one of the worst COVID-19-hit States in the US, is currently seeing a second wave of rising infections with a 3% test positivity rate. On Wednesday, New York city alone recorded over 1,700 fresh cases of COVID-19 and three new deaths. New York State as a whole recorded over 5,200 new cases and 31 deaths. The total number of cases in the State has reached around 5,97,000 with over 33,600 deaths.
New York City has reached the 3% testing positivity 7-day average threshold. Unfortunately, this means public school buildings will be closed as of tomorrow, Thursday Nov. 19, out an abundance of caution.
We must fight back the second wave of COVID-19.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) November 18, 2020
The city of New York has over one million students in public schools. Only 25% of all the registered students had rejoined in-person learning since the schools were reopened. All of them will shift to online learning for now.
According to Al-Jazeera, around 2,300 students and staff have tested positive since the reopening of schools in September and early October.
Reopening of schools was opposed by the parents and teaching staff. The government had to postpone the reopening several times before they finally did it citing a significant fall in COVID-19 infections in September.
The decision to shut the schools again has been endorsed by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), the largest union of instructors in the city. However, parents who opted for in-person classes have opposed the move and signed petitions to keep schools open.
Mulgrew: "The city established the three percent infection rate threshold to make sure that schools did not become centers to spread the coronavirus. Since the three percent rate has been reached, education will continue but all students will be learning remotely. 1/2
— UFT (@UFT) November 18, 2020
New York State governor Andrews Cuomo has warned that the number of fresh cases in the State is going to see a “tremendous spike” in the coming weeks. De Blasio also announced additional restrictions on people’s movement and businesses all across the city to prevent further spread of COVID-19 infections.