A classroom is empty with the lights off on what would otherwise be a blended learning school day on November 19, 2020 at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 in New York City.
Michael Loccisano | Getty Images
After previewing the return of in-person learning ahead of Thanksgiving, Mayor Bill de Blasio returned from the holiday on Sunday to announce the scheduled return of public schools starting with elementary and special education students.
The first school buildings will reopen Dec. 7, de Blasio said Sunday. City officials plan to reopen public school buildings in a phased approach, starting with 3-K, Pre-K and K-5 students. District 75 students of all grade levels will get the opportunity to return to the classroom a few days later on Dec. 10.
The city is reopening schools in phases, in part, to make sure enhanced testing resources will be available for returning students. The mayor did not offer a timeline of reopening school buildings for middle and high school students, saying the city was not ready yet to open every school.
School buildings returning to in-person learning, wherever possible, will transition to classroom instruction five days per week, the mayor said. When the schools reopen, weekly coronavirus testing will be in effect for students and faculty.
School buildings across New York City have been closed to in-person learning since Nov. 19 due to the city’s 3% rolling positivity rate. The previously set 3% threshold will no longer guide the decision to close schools citywide.
The mayor estimates 190,000 students enrolled in the public schools will be eligible to return the week of Dec. 7. Returning students must have a parent consent form, the mayor said.
The city is reopening schools “because we have so much proof now of how safe schools can be,” de Blasio said Sunday. “We feel confident that we can keep schools safe.”
Schools in the city’s orange zone are also being eyed for an early December reopening. The schools in Staten Island’s orange zone could open as early as the week of Dec. 7 as the city expedites enhanced testing requirements pursuant to the state’s guidelines, the mayor said Sunday.
“We know that if you put a heavy emphasis on testing and you continually reinforce those health and safety measures, you monitor carefully with the situation room, we know we can keep our schools safe for the duration and link up to that day when we have the vaccine that changes the whole reality for all of us,” de Blasio added.