New York City’s public schools will begin to reopen for in-person learning on December 7th, starting with elementary schools for students, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Sunday.
The reversal follows De Blasio’s decision to shut down schools less than two weeks ago after the citywide rate of positive coronavirus tests exceeded 3% ABC News reported.
De Blasio added on Twitter that “wherever possible we will move to 5 day a week in-person learning,” transitioning away from a hybrid model.
De Blasio’s shutdowns frustrated many parents, teachers and students, leading to protest outside City Hall in Manhattan to criticize the shutting down of the nation’s largest public school system, even as Catholic and other elite private schools in the city are allowed to remain open for in-person instruction, Fox News reported.
Even public health experts questioned the shutdowns, and pointed out schools have not proved to be likely transmission hotspots.
After closing the schools, de Blasio said Sunday, “We went about the work immediately of resetting the entire equation and trying to determine a path that would be sustainable regardless of the challenges we faced. We needed something sustainable that could link us up to the time we would have the vaccine widely distributed. And so we focused on increasing the health and safety measures, doubling down on the things that work, making them even more stringent and exacting.”
Students can only return to school if they have returned consent forms agreeing to be part of increased random testing, the new plan will test students from monthly to weekly.
The reopening of schools is focusing on younger grades, de Blasio said, as studies have shown that COVID-19 impacts younger children less harshly. The city’s 75 schools, which serve students with special needs, will reopen for all grade levels on Dec. 10. There is no word yet on reopenings for middle and high schools.