School shutdown in NY angers parents as gyms, bars stay open

Elias Hubbard
November 20, 2020

We did something that other cities around this country could only dream of because we have fought back this pandemic so well for so long.

The mayor started his press briefing Thursday discussing the "tough decision" to shift public school students to all-remote learning and responded to critics who questioned why indoor dining and gyms remain open.

From Sept. 8 through this week, according to a state website that tracks the virus in schools, positive cases totaled five at P.S. 6; one each at Browning and Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music, Art & Performing Arts; four at Chapin; zero at both Collegiate and P.S. 87; nine at Columbia Grammar & Prep; and seven at Trinity. New York City opened its schools for the 2020-2021 school year last month after several delays and a threatened teachers' strike.

Browning, Nightingale-Bamford, Collegiate, Spence, and Trinity are among the independent schools in Manhattan that said they will hold in-person classes Thursday.

"It is important that we follow the advice of our medical professionals so we are able to get back to in-person learning as quickly as possible", says NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza.

In a press conference Wednesday, a reporter asked Gov. Cuomo (D-N.Y.) whether New York City will close its schools this week. "Now it's the job of all New Yorkers to maintain social distance, wear masks and take all other steps to substantially lower the infection rate so school buildings can re-open for in-person instruction".

Levine added, "We should be prioritizing reopening for elementary school students and students with special needs because we know that there's a pedagogical cost and a social-emotional cost to online learning". I guess they'll have paper handouts.

New York City has reached the 3% testing positivity 7-day average threshold.

Even as the school system stayed open, almost 1,500 classrooms went through temporary closures after students or staffers tested positive, and officials began instituting local shutdowns in neighbourhoods where coronavirus cases were rising rapidly.

"This number just keeps growing and this worries me a lot", said de Blasio, noting the city's 550-case threshold.

David Lourie, the head of school at Collegiate, said in an email to parents earlier in the week that direction from the mayor or governor wouldn't be the only factor he considers in weighing whether to close.

Sara Seligson, managing director of day schools and yeshivot and school food services at the Jewish Education Project, said the city's departments of education and health have made clear that city services to private schools will continue even as public schools shut down again.

The governor said the weeks leading up January will be a risky time. "It is then going to run into the Christmas holidays, and you're going to see these numbers go very high".

He said it's "better to stay away" from Thanksgiving gatherings this year.

De Blasio said students will likely learn remotely until after Thanksgiving, and officials hope a new standard plan on reopening and closures will be in place, which includes increased testing.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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