NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that New York City is preparing to temporarily close schools if the current spike of new coronavirus cases surpasses the predetermined threshold.
The city's rolling seven-day positivity average continues to tick upward, and de Blasio said schools will be closed to in-person learning immediately if it reaches 3%.
Currently, the seven day average is 2.60% but has seen a steady rise.
"It is something no one wants to see," de Blasio said. "I don't want to see that happen. There is still a chance to turn that around, but we are preparing for that possibility. It's a rule we put out there very clearly, and if any day, we see in the morning the indicators come out, and they've reached that level, then we will move immediately, the next day, schools will be shut down. But there's still a chance to do something to avert that, and that's why it's so urgent that everyone does what we are calling on them to do, to help protect our schools. They have been extraordinarily safe, thank God."
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While noting there is an "unbelievably low level of transmission in our schools," the mayor nonetheless said the city is prepared to take immediate action. But he also expressed hope for a smooth transition.
"We are already in a situation where principals and teachers knew we could teach every child remote at any point, if we had to, literally the next day," he said. "Everyone is being alerted to prepare for something more than a single snow day that could be days or weeks."
But he also seemed unwilling to potentially change the 3% threshold.
"We put out a clear standard," he said. "We are going to stick to that standard...So if we get to a closure point, we are then going to assess what we need to do to come back as quickly as possible."
The seven-day average of new cases is 870, and the daily positivity rate is 2.3%.
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Parents who work outside the home say they need the schools to stay open for child care reasons, but that isn't the real issue.
They say the mayor should be more worried about children's emotional health which they say suffered greatly during last year's shutdown.
Karen Vaits said her 3rd-grade daughter showed signs of childhood depression when she couldn't go to school, and even going for five or six days each month this school year has given her something to look forward to.
"When she went back to school, the amount of additional joy that we saw in her each week...the difference in her happiness -- it's noticeable," Vaits said.
De Blasio also addressed the concerns over COVID fatigue among the population.
"Everyone's having a tough time," he said. We're all trying to figure out how to address a crisis that keeps changing, and the obvious and legitimate fatigue that people are feeling. But that said, we also see the same pattern in this city, and this is different than a lot of other places. You know, you could have seen a lot of places after what we went through in March and April, a lot of places just could have given up. New Yorkers fought back."
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