New York City schools open Tuesday, Wednesday as city remains below key threshold

Coronavirus update for NYC

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Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Schools will remain open Wednesday amid rise in COVID cases
Michelle Charlesworth has more on the COVID pandemic and its impact on schools in NYC.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- As New York City schools remained open Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced they will be open on Wednesday as well.

Monday's positivity rate remained below three percent, a key COVID-19 threshold that could shut down schools. Right now, the seven-day test average is at 2.74%.

"Another day that we stay below that threshold because of everything you have done," the mayor said to New Yorkers.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the seven-day average is below 3%, therefore allowing schools to remain open.

On Monday, de Blasio said that the city has "a fight ahead" to keep schools open.

"Every day that we can keep our schools open is a blessing for our children and our families," he said.

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

He is, however, in talks with the state, the unions and parents about how public schools would reopen to in-person learning, likely based on school testing.

"Having very stringent standards for our schools kept them safe," De Blasio said. "And if we are entering a more challenging period, what is that next level of health and safety measures we need to take to respond to the moment we are in, and that is what we are sorting out right now with the state and other stakeholders."

RELATED: New York City Positivity Tracker

The mayor said he will be sticking with the three percent threshold in order for schools to remain open.

"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.

De Blasio added he cannot predict when the city will surpass the three percent threshold.

"It impossible to say anything more than this -- I warned parents on Friday, get ready," he said. "I think that was a responsible thing to do. To say, look, this could happen, there's a decent chance it'll happen. Have your plan b ready for how your kids will be taken care of right if we have to close the schools for a period of time."

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 3% 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."

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

Just up the road in Connecticut, Governor Ned Lamont is also urging students get tested before and after returning home, followed by a 14-day quarantine before mingling with their families.

"We can't enforce this, I'm going to have to depend upon your good judgment, your parents' good judgment, your family's good judgment that you follow the protocols, you follow the quarantine, you follow the testing. It's so important," Lamont said.

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