NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City officials revealed a new plan for coronavirus-related school closures Thursday, replacing the so-called “2-case rule.”
“Our public schools are the anchor of everything that happens in New York City,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday morning. ”
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Starting Monday, any classroom where an infection is discovered will immediately close and go remote. If two or three classrooms are affected, they will close, and testing for the entire school will double, but the school won’t close.
If infections are discovered in four different classrooms within seven days from a known source in the school, the school will be closed for 10 days.
- If there is a one case in a classroom, that class will switch to remote learning for 10 days
- If there are two to three cases within a week schoolwide, there will be increased testing
- If there are four or more cases within a week schoolwide — in different classrooms and traced back to an exposure at school — the school will close and switch to remote learning for 10 days
The new rules apply to individual schools, not entire buildings.
On Monday, the mayor and schools chancellor said the city was ending the 2-case rule, which temporarily shut down schools if two positive cases were detected.
“Hopefully, it will give more consistency for the children to learn,” one parent told CBS2.
Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter insists that it will.
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“More days in classrooms for New York City’s children,” she said.
With new research showing COVID is impacting more children and young people, city leaders still say this is the right choice.
“I do feel confident that we can continue to apply very rigorous safety standards that will keep our schools safe, even though the virus is fighting back by evolving and changing,” said Dr. Jay Varma.
The teachers union is on board with the new rules, saying the changes can be made safely.
“Our rigorous COVID precautions have meant that schools have been the safest public spaces in New York City — with an infection rate of less than one percent, even when community infection rates are much higher,” the United Federation of Teachers said in a statement. “One component, agreed to by our independent medical experts, was the 2-case rule… Now, with our increased knowledge about the spread of the virus, and as more teachers and other school staff have been vaccinated, our medical experts are convinced that the rule can be changed and still maintain safety.”
The news comes a day before the deadline for students to opt back in for in-person learning this school year.
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The mayor says he is still confident public schools will be able to welcome back students full time in September.