STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — New York City will re-evaluate its policy for closing public school buildings if there are two coronavirus (COVID-19) cases reported, Mayor Bill de Blasio said during an interview on Friday.
While fielding questions during his weekly appearance on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, de Blasio was told by a teacher that he and Chancellor Richard Carranza should do away with the two-case policy of shuttering buildings for 10 days.
Under the city’s school reopening plan, a classroom with one confirmed case or more would quarantine the entire class for 10 days. Two or more unrelated cases without any clear links could shutter the entire building for 10 days.
The mayor explained there are circumstances where two COVID-19 cases could lead to a closure of a school building for 10 days. He added that “sometimes two cases do not lead to a longer closure, sometimes they do.”
“But I hear loud and clear that policy is being re-evaluated, obviously, because we need to improve our ability to get it exactly right,” de Blasio said on the show.
The Department of Education (DOE) didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.
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Since schools opened in September, there have been frequent closures of buildings — with more than 1,300 buildings closed for at least 10 to 14 days due to two or more unlinked COVID-19 cases since the start of the school year, city data shows. There are currently 92 schools closed for 10 days.
All public schools were closed in mid-November after the city’s positivity rate reached the 3% threshold to shutter buildings. While that threshold is no longer being used, individual schools are closed if there are multiple coronavirus cases.
Elementary schools and District 75 schools, which serve special education students, reopened shortly after the systemwide closures in December. But individual school closures continued to rise at the end of 2020 after random testing was increased to once a week.
De Blasio announced Monday that middle school students will begin returning to the classroom Feb. 25, with teachers and staff returning the day before.
So how do I know if my school has positive coronavirus cases?
The DOE said it would notify school communities if there are confirmed coronavirus cases in a child’s school. The agency asks families to sign up for an NYC Schools Account (NYCSA) so they can be contacted via phone, email, or text message. You can sign up here if you don’t have an account.
The DOE created a Daily COVID Case Map that shows all known cases of coronavirus at public schools. It is updated Sunday through Friday at 6 p.m. The map will show schools with a positive coronavirus case, with different color-coded dots. A red dot indicates a building has been closed, a blue dot indicates one (or more) classrooms in a building has been closed, and a grey dot indicates a member of the school community tested positive, but the school community wasn’t exposed.
New Yorkers are also able to see the number of confirmed positive coronavirus cases in their child’s school using the state’s online portal. The portal shows cases for public, private, Catholic and charter schools, as well as universities and colleges.
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