NEW YORK CITY — As coronavirus cases continue to surge in New York City, thousands of New York’s youngest students head back to the classroom Monday morning.
It is the restart for elementary, 3-K and pre-kindergarten schools since being temporarily shut down before Thanksgiving.
Students in District 75 schools at all grade levels are expected to return to in-person learning on Thursday.
Despite positive cases in the city averaging over 5%, officials realized schools are the one of the safest places to be.
The mayor also scrapped the citywide 3% coronavirus positivity rate threshold that mandated schools close in November, explaining the Department of Education’s testing program has shown that positivity rates in schools are lower than the city’s general population.
All in-person learning students must have a COVID-19 testing consent form signed by a parent or guardian before they can return to the classroom, according to the mayor.
President of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators Mark Cannizzaro told PIX11 the opening and closing of schools has been a struggle and "it's taken its toll" on teachers.
"They really haven't taken vacation. They haven’t taken a day off," Cannizzaro said.
However, educators know the focus is on the children.
Middle and high school students will, however, have to wait longer for schools to reopen. The city has not yet announced a return date for those students.
On Sunday, parents and their children rallied outside City Hall, calling for middle and high schools to resume in-person learning.
Thousands of students will continue remote learning as the city figures out how to send them back safely to classrooms.
Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced students would return to in-person learning in phases.
Between increased testing, the COVID-19 test consent form mandate and the continued success of the DOE's Situation Room, de Blasio has said he feels confident that schools will safely reopen in a manner that's sustainable.
The DOE is also moving toward bringing blended-learning students back into the classroom five days a week instead of part-time. De Blasio said last week that some schools are prepared to offer full-time, in-person learning as early as Monday while others will need more time to scale up.