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De Blasio warns NYC parents to plan for school closures as infection rate rises again

Bill de Blasio
Posted at 11:34 AM, Nov 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-13 17:20:20-05

NEW YORK CITY — Mayor Bill de Blasio warned New York City parents to have a plan in place as early as Monday for a possible schools shutdown after the city's infection rate rose again Friday, inching closer to the threshold for closures.

"I want parents to have a plan ready as early as Monday," the mayor said in an interview on WNYC radio's Brian Lehrer Show Friday morning.

De Blasio tweeted out the city's daily COVID-19 indicators around the same time, which noted that New York City's 7-day average positivity rate had risen to 2.83%.

The mayor has previously said schools would shut down once the city hit a seven-day average of 3% positivity. While the city is not there, the positivity rate has been creeping upward in recent weeks.

"We'd close schools temporarily," de Blasio said in Friday's interview. "Parents should have a plan for the rest of November as early as Monday."

He said the city will give updates over the weekend, on both Saturday and Sunday, to "let them know what they should do."

The exception is Pre-K, 3-K and Learning Bridges, which will stay open, giving priority to kids of essential workers.

The mayor said they are still working out logistics for District 75 schools.

The new warning comes a day after de Blasio doubled down on his promise to shut down public schools if the city reached that 3% rate.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said schools the state will shut down schools if the infection rate rises over 9%.

Friday, Cuomo said he supported de Blasio's parameters while reiterating the state's own guidelones.

He said the state set parameters that local school districts must stay under -- 9% infection rate, for example — but local districts with their own lower thresholds are acceptable in this case.

New York City, in its agreement with the state, who has the final say on school matters, said that a 3% infection rate would trigger closures.

"If you close schools, I urge the mayor and all involved to open them as quickly as possible,"Cuomo said. "If that means reestablishing the agreement and parameters, so be it."

He's repeatedly clashed with de Blasio over schools since the start of the pandemic.

Thursday night, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza sent a letter to principals titled "Guidance for School Preparedness for Potential Transition to Fully Remote Instruction in the Event of Citywide Closures."

The email said all schools should, out of an abundance of caution, be prepared to return to fully remote learning system-wide for "a brief time."

In the email, Carranza said principals should make sure contact info for students and families is up to date; distribute the school's inventory of devices; designate point people to help handle distribution of materials for students as the come in (some devices were still being shipped); communicate with teachers, staff and parents over a variety of remote learning subjects; prioritize social-emotional learning and mental health and wellness; be aware and spread awareness of grading and attendance policies; and continue to escalate concerns.

School systems in Detroit, Indianapolis, Philadelphia and suburban Minneapolis gave up on in-person classes.

De Blasio has said his threshold for school closures was chosen out of an abundance of caution.