De Blasio: NYC public schools to begin phased reopening Dec. 7

New York City's public schools will begin reopening on Dec. 7, beginning with 3-K, Pre-K, and grades K-5, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday.

Soon afterward on Dec. 10, all grade levels of District 75 schools, which provide support for students with significant challenges like autism or significant cognitive delays, will begin reopening as well.

“We now believe we know what we didn’t know, we know what works through actual experience," de Blasio said.

The plan to reopen the city's schools safely means that testing will be increased to weekly, with parents required to sign a testing consent form to allow their children to attend school.

De Blasio said that the city would be moving towards a 5-days-a-week in-person learning schedule as much as possible.

About 190,000 students will be eligible to return to classrooms in the first round of reopening, just a fraction of the more than 1 million total pupils in the system. The great majority of parents have opted to have their kids learn remotely by computer.

Despite the new approach, however, the city's middle and high schools will not yet reopen as a plan for their reopening is still being developed.

“This will be the model for the duration,” de Blasio said. “This will take us through until we have a vaccine.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he supports de Blasio's school reopening plan.

“I think that’s the right direction,” the governor said in a conference call with reporters. "We do have new facts and information on schools.”

The mayor said the city was doing away with its previous trigger for closing schools, which was when 3% or more of the virus tests conducted in the city over a seven-day period came back positive.

New York City exceeded that threshold early in November, and things have slightly worsened since then.

Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, said the union supports the reopening plan as long as stringent testing is in place.

"This strategy — properly implemented — will allow us to offer safe in-person instruction to the maximum number of students until we beat the pandemic,” Mulgrew said in a statement.

Mark Cannizzaro, the president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, which represents principals, said school leaders “deeply understand the need for children to learn in person as regularly as possible, so long as all safety protocols are based on the guidance of medical professionals.”

De Blasio also announced that 1,636 new COVID-19 cases were reported in New York City, while the 7-day-rolling average increased to 3.9%.

With the Associated Press.

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