Mayor Bill de Blasio warned on Thursday that the nation’s largest schools system might shutter once again if the city ‘s coronavirus surge continues.
Hizzoner had previously stated that he would close the system if the citywide COVID-19 infection rate hit 3 percent as a rolling seven-day average.
As of Thursday, that figure had ticked up to 2.6 percent.
“There’s still a chance to turn that around, obviously, but we’re preparing for that possibility,” de Blasio said at his daily briefing. “It’s a rule we’ve put out there very clearly. And if any day we see in the morning, the indicators come out and have reached that level then we will move immediately. The next day schools will be shut down.”
De Blasio issued the dire caution despite stressing the safety of city classrooms in recent weeks and months.
In encouraging city parents to enroll their children in the city’s blended learning format, where kids alternate between home and classroom learning, de Blasio has highlighted minimal infection rates.
Internal school testing, according to the Department of Education, has produced infection rates that have hovered around just 0.15 percent.
“It’s proven to be a huge success in terms of keeping people safe,” de Blasio argued. “But we set that very strict standard, really to give people confidence in the kinds of safety measures that would be in place.”
De Blasio’s warning comes at a particularly sensitive time for city parents.
City Hall offered families one window to switch from an all-remote learning model to the blended format that ends in a matter of days.
The mayor noted that another total shutdown can still be avoided despite the ominous citywide numbers.
“There’s still a chance to do something to avert that,” he said. “And that’s why it’s so urgent that everyone does what we’re calling upon them to do, to help protect our schools, which have been extraordinarily safe, thank God.”
As of this month, roughly 500,000 city kids were still enrolled in blended learning, less than half of the system’s overall enrollment.
But the DOE has acknowledged that only 283,000 students have actually set foot in a building at least once this year.