Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
China Daily Global / 2020-11 / 20 / Page006

New York City closes public schools as cases climb

By AI HEPING in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-11-20 00:00

New York City's public school system temporarily closed in-person instruction in the country's largest school district on Thursday because of an increase in coronavirus cases in the city, school officials announced.

The city's 1.1 million students will now be taught entirely online, as most already are.

To keep students spread out, the authorities offered in-person instruction part time, with children logging on from home the rest of the time. At the end of October, about 25 percent of students had gone to class in school this fall, far fewer than officials had expected.

The switch to all-remote instruction will disrupt the education of many of the roughly 300,000 children who have been attending in-person classes and create major child care problems for parents who count on their children being at school for at least part of the week.

The move came after schools have been open for in-person instruction for just under eight weeks.

Mayor Bill de Blasio had warned of closing all school buildings once the positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average for the disease reached the threshold of 3 percent. The city's health department said it reached that level on Wednesday.

Over the course of the pandemic, the department's numbers have often differed from that of the state, which said on Wednesday the city had a seven-day rolling average of 2.5 percent.

The city was the center of the nation's epidemic in the spring, and its positive test rate fell dramatically over the summer. The rate has been gradually rising again recently.

Nationwide, the United State's death toll of COVID-19 had passed a quarter of a million people on Wednesday. And 11,529,818 infections had been reported as of Thursday, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

School officials said the spike in the city does not appear to be caused by the reopening of school buildings, where they said virus transmission had remained very low since they reopened in September. As of midweek, more than 2,300 students or staff at the schools had tested positive since the start of the school year, city officials said.

Other cities acting

New York City joins other large school districts in cities like Boston and Detroit that have recently canceled in-person learning.

Within the last week, the Clark County School District, which includes Las Vegas and is the fifth largest in the US, and Philadelphia's public school system both postponed plans to return to in-person learning.

Even as the school system stayed open, nearly 1,500 classrooms went through temporary closures after students or employees tested positive. Officials began instituting local shutdowns in neighborhoods where coronavirus cases were rising rapidly.

The reopening of schools was originally set for Sept 10, but was postponed twice as teachers, principals and some parents said safety precautions and staffing were inadequate.

The teachers' union at one point threatened to go on strike. The city agreed to changes, including hiring thousands more teachers and testing 10 percent to 20 percent of all students and employees per month for the virus.

Since October, New York state has been categorizing areas of high coronavirus risk with colors: red representing full restrictions, orange lesser restrictions and yellow indicates restrictions could be forthcoming.

Governor Andrew Cuomo warned New York City on Wednesday it was on the verge of entering the orange zone of restrictions.

Agencies contributed to this story.


Students wave goodbye to teachers on Wednesday at a New York high school after the principal announced that the school would be closed. KATHY WILLENS/ASSOCIATED PRESS



Most Viewed

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349