The new rule is intended to keep more public schools open while reassuring parents that the risk to their children is low.
"We're convinced we will have the same extraordinary safety that our schools have had while having more time in school for our kids," de Blasio said. "I know every day, every hour in school helps a child move forward."
Effective Monday, it will take at least four COVID-19 infections to close a school. And even then, those cases must be entirely unrelated, traced to different classrooms and the source must be an in-school exposure.
One confirmed case in a classroom means that classroom goes virtual.
Two or three cases in a week at a school means that there will be increased testing. It will double to 40%.
The threshold for 10-day school closures includes:
- 4 or more cases in a week
- In different classrooms
- Traced to known exposure in school
"This rule applies to individual schools, as opposed to the entire building," Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter said. "If cases are reported an investigation takes place, but the whole school does not need to close for 24 hours while that is ongoing. And I know all of the parents, along with me are shouting a big 'hooray' for that."
The change marks the "end the era of disruptive 24 hour closures" that have frustrated parents and educators this school year.
The change is due, in large part, to the breakneck pace of vaccination.
Fully vaccinated teachers, as well as older high school students getting vaccinated starting this week, will no longer have to isolate even when classrooms quarantine.
More than 65,000 of the 147,000 Education Department employees have been vaccinated, although the mayor said that number is likely higher.
United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said the new plan makes sense:
"This change will mean that while many classrooms will continue to close, the number of overall schools closed will decline, a repeated request of both teachers and parents. While this is a step forward, the most important fact in the public school opening debate is that the overwhelming majority -- some seven hundred thousand public school families - continue to opt for remote instruction. If we are going to have anything like a normal opening in September, the Mayor needs to find ways to assure them that our COVID precautions remain strong and that schools are safe for their children."
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