STATEN ISLAND — Elementary schools in Staten Island's COVID-19 orange zone will reopen their doors again Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday.
New York City public schools closed nearly three weeks ago on Nov. 19 after the city's positivity rate reached 3% over a seven-day average, a threshold set by the mayor for schools earlier in the year.
Twenty schools will reopen for in-person learning on the South Shore of the borough, while other orange-zone restrictions in the area continue.
In an orange zone, houses of worship are limited to 33% capacity or a maximum of 25 people and high-risk non-essential businesses such as gyms and personal-care shops must close.
Additionally, restaurants can only offer takeout, delivery and outdoor dining with a maximum of four people. Both residential and non-residential gatherings are limited to a maximum of 10 people.
The northern part of the borough remains a yellow zone.
City figures show the average positivity rate in Staten Island varies from 8% to 10%, with the rest of the boroughs just under 5%, but schools have been safe havens.
"School buildings are in fact some of the very safest places to be in all of New York City because of testing," de Blasio has said.
Students in grades K-5, 3-K, and pre-kindergarten will return to the classroom on Monday. Students in the city's District 75 schools at all grade levels are expected to return to in-person learning on Thursday.
However, a New York Times report shows there continues to be a racial divide when it comes to parents keeping children home from school during the pandemic.
According to the report, 12,000 more white children are returning to public schools than Black students, who make up the majority of the city's student body.
Data and interviews with parents show Black familites don't trust their kids are safe at school despite what science has shown with testing and a vaccine on the way.
"The more we can help people understand the science, as well as build their trust that we've reviewed the data ourselves, we're hopeful that this will have a big impact," said the mayor's Senior Advisor for Public Health Dr. Jay Varma.