US

NYC eases controversial COVID-19 school closure rule

NYC eases controversial COVID-19 school closure rule

It will now take at least four positive COVID-19 cases to temporarily close a city school, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday.

Previously, the Department of Education shuttered buildings with only two or more unrelated infections.

“This will help us to have more consistency in school attendance and schedules, keep strong health and safety standards,” de Blasio said at his daily briefing Thursday.

Schools will now close for up to 14 days when four or more cases are detected in different classrooms and are traced to a building exposure.

The prior format — which shuttered hundreds of city schools each week — had come under heavy scrutiny.

Bill de Blasio making announcements about COVID-closure protocol for NYC public schools on April, 8 2021.
Bill de Blasio making announcements about COVID-closure protocol for NYC public schools on April 8.
Mayor’s Office

Critics charged that the approach was devised at the height of the pandemic and had become dated.

The availability of vaccines and easing COVID-19 infection rates, they said, warranted a new protocol that would allow schools to stay open for longer periods.

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Students wait to go through a temperature check point at James Madison High School on March 22, 2021 in Brooklyn.
Students wait to go through a temperature check point at James Madison High School on March 22, 2021 in Brooklyn.
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The city teachers union was initially resistant to any changes to the closure rules but signed off on City Hall’s new plan.

In a statement, United Federation of Teachers chief Michael Mulgrew said the fresh approach would produce more reliable schedules.

A social distancing sign is posted on a fence outside of the PS 130 The Parkside School in NYC.
A social distancing sign is posted on a fence outside of the PS 130 The Parkside School in NYC.
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

“If we are going to have anything like a normal opening in September, the Mayor needs to find ways to assure them that our COVID precautions remain strong and that schools are safe for their children,” he said.

A view of students attending Yung Wing School P.S. 124 on January 13, 2021 in New York City.
A view of students attending Yung Wing School P.S. 124 on Jan. 13 in New York City.
Getty Images

Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross-Porter reminded parents Thursday that they can still register their kids for classroom learning until Friday.

A physical distancing mark is seen at the entrance of a public school in New York on Nov. 19, 2020.
A physical distancing mark is seen at the entrance of a public school in New York on Nov. 19, 2020.
Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images

Roughly 70 percent of kids in the nation’s largest school system are still learning on a fully remote basis.

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About the author

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Raymond Hicks

With a knack for storytelling, Raymond started The Madison Leader Gazette about a year ago. Covering substantial topics under the US & World section, he helps information seep in deeper with creative writing and content management skills.

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