NYC schools stay open, mayor warns 'we've got a fight ahead'

Coronavirus update for NYC

ByDiana Rocco, Eyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
NYC schools stay open, mayor warns 'we've got a fight ahead
Schools in New York City will remain open on Tuesday as the city remains below a key COVID-19 threshold that could shut down schools.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Schools in New York City will remain open on Tuesday as the city remains below a key COVID-19 threshold that could shut down schools.

"We've got a fight ahead to keep them open, but I'm not giving up and you shouldn't give up either," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "Every day that we can keep our schools open is a blessing for our children and our families."

de Blasio says learning would go back to remote-only citywide if the positivity rate reaches 3%.

RELATED: New York City Positivity Tracker

The mayor added he will be sticking with the three percent threshold in order for schools to remain open. Right now, the 7-day test average is at 2.77%.

"We said that to give people confidence that we will put health and safety first, and we have put health and safety first and we will put health and safety first," he said. "So we're sticking to that threshold, and I believe there's still a chance to fight back this disease and keep our schools open for a good while ahead."

Mayor Bill de Blasio gives the latest update on schools in New York City as COVID cases rise.

If the city's seven-day average surpasses that threshold, de Blasio says there will be an "immediate effort to get schools back and get them back quickly."

He said schools will close at the three percent threshold, but said some schools could reopen quickly if they are proved to be safe under an increased testing program.

"If we surpass that (three percent) standard, and that is not a given, but if we do, then the conversation we are having with the state is how quickly we come back, and what it will take," de Blasio said. "The governor spoke about it this morning. We've been talking about additional testing measures, additional things we could do to come back quickly."

De Blasio reiterated testing is crucial to prevent spread.

"That is crucial to our ability to fight back this disease that is New Yorkers taking matters into their own hands in the best way," he said.

When asked to elaborate on that possibility, which would mirror the state's existing program for red zone schools to reopen with low positivity levels, the mayor said "that model could make a lot of sense" in New York City.

"We are obviously going to talk it through with the state," he said. "As the governor said, as I've said, we need to keep a bond of trust with parents, with educators, with staff. We are talking to all the stakeholders, but that is certainly one of the models that could work to say we will do additional requirements, school-by-school, as part of the pathway back."

Governor Andrew Cuomo has indicated he would like schools to stay open, citing low infection rates in schools and frequent testing.

New York City should consider a school's COVID-19 positivity rate when deciding whether to close it to in-person learning, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.

RELATED: Coronavirus by zip code - New York City

The decision to close NYC Public Schools would affect about half of New York City students who have been participating in in-person learning.

So far, only about 28% of students have actually shown up to class.

The mayor added there is a lot of school year left, and he is hopeful that all students will be back in schools five days a week this school year once a vaccine is widely available

On Staten Island, Catholic schools in the red and yellow zones will reopen Monday after a testing plan has been put in place.

They will tests 20% of students and staff starting Friday. The Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens has decided that if city schools go all-remote they will remain open.

The Superintendent of Catholic Schools for Brooklyn and Queens announced Sunday that all 69 schools and academies will remain open and continue to provide in-person learning, irrespective of any impending decision pertaining to the status of New York City public schools.

The city reported a 7-day average of COVID cases at 937, 117 hospital admissions and a COVID positivity rate of 31.71% among hospital admissions.

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