What to Know
- New York City schools move all-remote indefinitely as of Thursday after the city hit Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 3 percent rolling positivity rate threshold a day earlier; there is no timeline set for an in-person return
- More restrictions are coming soon; de Blasio says it’s “just a matter of time” before Gov. Cuomo declares NYC an orange zone, which bans indoor dining and closes gyms and salons
- The developments come amid a U.S. COVID surge that has left no state untouched; cases have increased in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. in the last 14 days. The death toll has topped 250k
Today in New York City you can have dinner inside a restaurant. You can go to a salon or barbershop. You can visit museums. You can’t send your child to public school.
Parents were left in anxious limbo for a week as the city kept inching closer to the mayor’s 3 percent positivity rate closure threshold. It eventually hit that Wednesday, according to city data. Now families once again are scrambling to ensure their kids have the tools they need to learn fully remotely indefinitely — and to ensure someone will be home to care for them full-time for the duration.
Mayor Bill de Blasio says he’s hopeful the closure will last just a few weeks. He expects to provide clarity on reopening benchmarks before Thanksgiving after consultation with the state. In the meantime, city officials say they understand the sudden — and all-too-familiar — inconvenience parents are facing yet again.
“This is a tough day. It was a tough decision yesterday. It’s not something anyone can possibly be happy about. I understand the frustration of parents,” de Blasio said Thursday. “We will bring our schools back. But we’re going to have to reset the equation. Something is changing, it’s changing rapidly in this city. We certainly see what’s happening around the country. We’ve got to reset the equation.”
“Our schools have been extraordinarily safe. We’ve got to keep it that way,” he added. “We can’t just stand pat with a strategy that worked before when conditions are changing. We need to come up with even more stringent rules to make schools work and testing is going to be absolutely crucial.”
Many frustrated parents question why bars and restaurants are allowed to stay open when they’re at higher risk of spreading COVID-19 and the city’s own data has shown an in-school positivity rate under 0.2 percent — a number Gov. Andrew Cuomo says indicates schools are safer than New York City streets. A number of parents plan to rally outside City Hall later Thursday in protest.
To parents angry that restaurants and bars stay open as schools close, de Blasio had a stark message Thursday: It’s just a matter of time before those shut, too.
New York City schools will move all-remote Thursday, the mayor tweeted Wednesday. The announcement came as Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrapped up a news briefing in which he said NYC could soon become an orange zone. NBC New York’s Adam Hardning reports.
“The governor made clear yesterday that it’s just a matter of time before indoor dining will close and other types of things,” he said. “Anyone who heard those words ‘orange zone’ yesterday … the orange zone rules are clear. And New York City will before long be in that orange zone status. Those restrictions are coming.”
De Blasio said he expects them in a week or two. The ongoing growth of the city’s daily case average, which topped 1,200 for the first time Thursday since May 8, makes it almost inevitable that the city’s rolling positivity rate will eventually meet the governor’s criteria for an orange zone — unless, somehow, the volume of negative tests manages to defy current trends and hold the positivity rate down.
That is highly unlikely in de Blasio’s view: “I don’t think it’s an ‘if’ the city is going into an orange zone. It’s ‘when.’ By any normal count, just looking at the state’s own number system, we’re talking a week or two before we’re in…