NYC to change COVID-19 school closure rules but won’t say how or when
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The city will modify its controversial two-case COVID-19 school closure rules, Mayor de Blasio confirmed Monday — but he refused to say what the new regulations will be, or when parents will find out.
Hizzoner said the city will extend to Friday an ongoing opt-in period for parents to enroll their kids in classroom learning due to the coming changes — though wouldn’t guarantee they’d know exactly what they were signing up for by then.
Currently, any school building with two or more unrelated coronavirus cases is immediately shuttered for up to two weeks — a threshold that has closed hundreds of schools each week.
Citing ongoing union negotiations, de Blasio said the new plan will be announced in “the coming days” — but would only pledge that more than two cases will now be required to lock up a building.
“It’s going to be more than two,” de Blasio said when asked how families can make an informed decision without knowing what the protocols will be.
Many parents, especially single working moms, have argued that haphazard in-person learning schedules make it impossible for them to arrange for childcare and work.
Remote learning, they assert, becomes the only workable option for them because of the unpredictability of in-person learning.
But pressed for a timeline on the new guidance — and how parents could make an educated decision on whether to place their kids back in school by Friday without one — de Blasio would only say that the city has more work to do and that there will be an announcement “in the coming days.”
“I don’t think [parents] are out there with banners saying they want it to be X number of cases or Y number of cases,” de Blasio said Monday.
“I think what folks feel, and they’re right, is that the two-case rule has outlived its usefulness. So it will be gone. There will be a new rule in place soon. What it means is that schools will be open more and more consistently.”
Roughly 70 percent of all kids in the nation’s largest school system are still learning on a fully remote basis and do not set foot in classrooms.
The Department of Education has stated that roughly 25,000 families have opted into blended learning during the current window.
An increasingly frustrated group of parents calling for the wider reopening of schools assert that current in-person offerings barely qualify as classroom learning.
But the United Federation of Teachers has urged caution on meddling with the two-case rule, arguing that a rush to soften coronavirus restrictions poses a risk of resurgence.
The union did not immediately comment on de Blasio’s announcement.
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