NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York City public schools will switch to distance learning starting Thursday.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday afternoon that the city’s seven-day average hit 3%, triggering the move.
“New York City has reached exactly 3.0% and so we have to close our schools for the next few days,” said de Blasio.
After postponing his daily press conference for five hours and checking and reviewing the city’s COVID infection rate, de Blasio announced the school would be closed.
WATCH: Mayor Bill de Blasio Announces NYC Public Schools Are All-Remote Learning
“The teachers gave us a lot of preparation material. Lots of textbooks in my backpack. I think we’re ready, but we’re not really ready, ”said parent Lee Billings.
Parents and school principals were already notified when the coronavirus infection rate approached the 3% threshold. This measurement was carried out with the trade unions in the summer to reach an agreement on the opening of schools.
New York City hit the 7-day average threshold of 3%. Unfortunately, this means that public school buildings will be closed from tomorrow, Thursday, November 19 out of caution.
We have to fight back the second wave of COVID-19.
– Major Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) November 18, 2020
In schools, however, the infection rate is well below half a percent.
“If we turn a hard and fast light switch on and off, I wonder if we’ll be back before 2021,” said parent Jennifer Tuttle.
Around 300,000 students visit the school personally. It’s a great relief for parents who now have to juggle full distance learning.
“Who’s going to have the bad day at work? Who will have the bad work week? And we’ll swap, ”said Billings.
Kindergarten teacher Jerry Gambichler left PS 166 with additional supplies and didn’t know when he would return to the classroom.
“To hear it now and not have a plan in advance to make it happen, go home, don’t come tomorrow,” he said.
Schools will be closed at least until after Thanksgiving.
The schools were safe with a positivity rate of less than half a percent. As a result, there is renewed pressure to change the 3% threshold. But the teachers’ union does not seem ready to move.
“Presented by the city’s doctors and confirmed by the doctors we work with that this is the right number.”
Tests in schools will be central to reopening, but otherwise the city and state have not teamed up to come up with a plan.
“We have real work to do that I think we can do quickly to put these standards together … and a plan of action to make them a reality,” said de Blasio. United Teachers’ Association President Michael Mulgrew said.
Watch: UFT President Michael Mulgrew on the decision to move to distance learning
“Now it is the job of all New Yorkers to maintain social distance, wear masks and take all other steps to significantly reduce the infection rate so that school buildings can be reopened for face-to-face classes,” Mulgrew said in a statement.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday the plan for reopening was still unclear.
Outside of New York City, schools in orange zones can reopen after four days if students and staff are tested on their return.
Cuomo said Wednesday that the system will not work in the city because of “volume”.
“When New York City hits 3%, it’s an orange zone. If New York City was going to reopen schools, we would have to devise a different formula for New York City because we couldn’t test every student in New York City in terms of volume, ”he said.
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“I am saddened by this decision because so much good work has been done to keep the schools open and open them to start the win. Let’s start there,” de Blasio said at a press conference that afternoon. “But we set a very clear standard and we have to adhere to this standard.
“We intend to come back as soon as possible,” he added.
WATCH: Governor Andrew Cuomo delivers coronavirus briefing
De Blasio said that in order for the school system to reopen it must meet an even higher standard of health and tests are becoming more important than ever.
“I would like to emphasize that tests are crucial for the successful reopening of our schools,” said the mayor. “Everyone has to deal more with tests. I guarantee you that part of this plan will put even more emphasis on testing. So I want to tell everyone in our school communities, starting with parents and children, that we need to get these test consent forms and even if we are in this moment of break we need to come back, we all need to get this test authorization is being submitted so that we can get into an even deeper test regime. “
Now tens of thousands of students are still without the necessary equipment. Sixty thousand students do not have the devices they need for distance learning.
The Chancellor says there is a supply problem. The district expects to receive and distribute equipment to 40,000 students this week.
The teachers prepare paper packages for students without access to computers and tablets.
In addition, take-away meals are offered in schools from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on weekdays.