Closing schools is "last resort," says NYC Schools Chancellor

 While many schools across the country are closed due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the New York City public school system remains open.

"Not all parents have paid leave so it's a last resort for us but that doesn't mean that if circumstances warrant we won't go there," said Schools Chancellor Richard Carrranza to FOX 5 NY morning program, 'Good Day New York.'

Extra efforts are being made to keep schools clean and encourage healthy hygiene habits among students including frequent hand washing based on recommendations from the Department of Health.

"We are taking our cues from them. At this moment, they say there is no need to close our schools," said Carranza.

Calls to close the schools to keep students and staff free of the potentially deadly virus are growing.

Parents citywide fretted about whether the public school system, with its 1.2 million pupils, might be shut down, as happened in nearby New Rochelle, a suburb that has been a focus of the outbreak in the U.S.

"It is time to close our public schools. This isn't an easy decision, but we must take aggressive measures to stop the spread of (hash)COVID19," City Council Speaker Corey Johnson tweeted Friday. "Teaching and learning can not take place under these circumstances for the safety and well being of the teachers and students."

The schools' chancellor says making that decision is much more complex than some people may realize.

"It's going to be based on facts. It's going to be based on the experts who tell us what the next steps should be," said Carranza.

If schools were to shut down, an alternative education plan would go into effect.

"A full 80 percent of students in New York City Public Schools are classified as living in poverty so not everybody has internet connection so it's more than just online. "

— Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza

"A full 80 percent of students in New York City Public Schools are classified as living in poverty so not everybody has internet connection so it's more than just online. We also have to have some paper-based products. It's also web and cloud-based that they can access on their smartphone if they have a smartphone. It's working with our libraries so that they have access to internet there. "

Other serious issues,  according to the chancellor include how to feed the students and continue to give them health care.

"Some of our students the only real hot meals they get are the ones they get at school. Some of the kids come to health clinics in our schools," said Carranza.

Mayor de Blasio has echoed concerns about children going hungry if the schools close.

With the Associated Press

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