NEW YORK - Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza laid out new protocols for handling any possible confirmed coronavirus cases in New York City schools this upcoming academic year.
De Blasio said Friday that schools won't open at all unless the citywide rate of positive COVID-19 tests is below 3% -- a lower number than the 5% rate that has been cited by experts as a sign that it's safe to open schools and businesses.
"This is a way of proving that we will do things the right way, setting a very tough bar but also one I am convinced we can achieve," de Blasio said, noting that the city has been below 3% every day since June 10.
If one or more students in the same class tests positive for COVID-19, the Department of Education will close that classroom and transition everyone to remote learning.
If two or more children in the same school, but different classes, test positive the entire building will shut down for two weeks and everyone will be moved to online learning.
If at least two cases arise in the same school, but it's believed the infection occurred outside of the building, the DOE will shutter the entire school while contact tracers investigate the course of exposures. Once the probe is completed, the building will reopen, while the impacted classroom will remain closed for an additional two weeks.
The plan also calls for school staffers to be tested regularly, requiring students to wear masks, daily cleaning of schools, and isolation rooms for kids who are feeling sick until they can be picked up.
All of this is part of the city's 'Blended Learning' plan where students are in the classroom two to three days a week and learning from home on the others.
Parents will have the chance to opt-out of 'Blended Learning' each quarter. The deadline for the school's first quarter is August 7. A school start date has not yet been announced.
Governor Andrew Cuomo will have to sign off on the city's plan. He's vowed to make a final decision by next week.