Coronavirus Update New York: Schools can now stay open even if regions surpass 9% positivity

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Monday, January 4, 2021
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This new guidance applies to New York City schools amid increasing positivity.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new guidance for keeping schools open as COVID-19 cases continue to spike across New York.

If a region goes over 9% positivity, schools can stay open if testing in schools shows they are below the community average.

It will be up to the school district to decide if they want to keep schools open.

"My position has always been if the children are safer in the school than they are on the streets of the community, then children should be in school with testing in the schools," Cuomo said. "So we know the positivity right in the schools. We know the positivity right in the community. If the schools are safer, then my opinion just an opinion, matter of fact, my opinion is leave the schools open."

This new guidance applies to New York City amid increasing positivity.

The statewide positivity on Monday was reported at 8.34% with a 9.85% positivity in micro-cluster target areas.

Mayor Bill de Blasio had already indicated he wanted to keep schools open past 9% positivity and now he can.

However, in statement UFT President Michael Mulgrew said the city needs to place a priority on protecting school communities.

"If the community infection rate in the city hits 9%, the safe thing to do is to close the schools, even if the in-school rate is lower," Mulgrew said. "Safety comes first - as shown by the fact that hundreds of our elementary schools and classrooms are closed temporarily every day because the virus has been detected. That is how we have stopped the spread of the virus inside our schools."

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The announcement comes as the state approved new groups of New Yorkers who can receive the coronavirus vaccine, including: testing site workers, contact tracers, outpatients and ambulatory care providers, dentists, physical therapists, workers at specialized clinics and NYPD medical staff.

The next group eligible, starting Jan. 11, include home care workers, hospice workers and more nursing home staff.

Amid complaints that vaccine rollout is not happening fast enough across the state, the NYC City Council will hold an oversight hearing on Jan. 12 "to determine if the city is doing everything in its power to safely and efficiently vaccinate New Yorkers as quickly as possible."

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