New York City schools will shut down on Thursday, shifting all students in the country’s largest school district to fully remote learning as coronavirus cases creep upward in the city that was once the global epicenter of the pandemic and that only recently began reopening classrooms and businesses.
New York City reached a coronavirus test positivity rate of 3% over a seven-day rolling average on Wednesday, the threshold Mayor Bill de Blasio had set for school closures.
“As a result, we do need to close our schools for the coming days. No one is happy about this decision,” he said during a press briefing Wednesday. “But we set a very clear standard, and we need to stick to that standard.”
“I want to emphasize to parents, to educators, to staff, to kids, that we intend to come back and come back as quickly as possible,” he added.
The decision, which affects more than 1 million students, is grim evidence of the pandemic’s relentless rampage across the country and back into areas that for months had kept infection rates relatively low. New York City first closed schools in mid-March, as it was becoming the pandemic’s epicenter. In October, it heralded the reopening of classrooms after the city’s infection rate had been brought under control following a spring and summer of lockdowns and mask-wearing mandates.
But with surrounding states’ positivity rates climbing and some neighborhoods in New York City spiking amid a relaxation of restrictions and complacency over mask-wearing and social-distancing, fears quickly grew that schools would again have to close.
New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said all learning would proceed remotely, “until further notice.” He said schools have been “rem