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Mayor and Schools Chancellor Announce New COVID-19 Case Rule for School Closures

(Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

April 8, 2021 By Allie Griffin

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced sweeping changes to the city’s COVID-19 closure policies for New York City public schools.

The city has doubled the number of coronavirus cases that requires the Department of Education to close a school for 10 days.

Beginning Monday, schools will close for in-person instruction if four or more cases of the coronavirus are detected among students or staff within one week, de Blasio announced Thursday.

The cases must also be found in different classrooms and must have been contracted inside the school.

“Fewer closures mean consistency and stability for students, staff, families and more days in classrooms for New York City’s children,” Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter said at the mayor’s press briefing.

Previously, two unlinked cases among students and staff within one week triggered a 10-day closure of an entire building — which could mean multiple schools within the same building were shuttered. The new rule will close only the school where there are four or more cases were found, not the entire building.

“We’ve seen the studies, consulted with medical experts and based this change on guidance from the CDC,” Porter said. “We’ve heard the voices of our school communities calling for increased stability around in-person learning as long as we can do so safely.”

If a school closes, all students will be switched to remote learning until it reopens in 10 days.

If two or three cases of COVID-19 are confirmed in different classrooms, the city will double the amount of random weekly testing from its baseline of 20 percent of staff and students to 40 percent of staff and students, Porter said.

One confirmed case within a class will still warrant a closure of that individual classroom for 10 days, she added.

Parents with children who are enrolled in full remote learning have until Friday to decide to send their kids back to the classroom for the remainder of the school year. It is the last opportunity for parents to enroll the children in the city’s blended learning model, in which students attend class in-person on some days and remotely on other days.

Parents who wish to enroll their children in the hybrid model can do so by calling 311 or visiting nycenet.edu/surveys/learningpreference.

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