NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Schools in New York City could be forced to shut down in-person learning as early as Monday.
As CBS2’s Kevin Rincon reports, the COVID positivity rate in the city has been going up, and if it hits 3%, which could happen this weekend, students won’t be allowed back into the classroom.READ MORE: New York State Legislature Votes To Curb Gov. Cuomo's Emergency Powers
The warning came from Mayor Bill de Blasio, who says parents need to prepare for the possibility their kids won’t be allowed back until next month, despite the fact schools have been relatively safe.
“The testing shows very few people have tested positive in our schools, that’s a great blessing. But when you see the rest of the city, unfortunately, experiencing this generalized problem, we’ve got to act out of an abundance of caution,” the mayor said.
Watch Kevin Rincon’s report —
He said parents should have a plan for the rest of the month.
“Have a plan an alternative plan for beginning as early as Monday, for whatever will help them get through this month if school was not open,” the mayor said. “If we get to that point, the goal is bringing it back as soon as possible.”
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza sent guidance to principals Thursday night, saying he believes it will be “a brief time of fully remote learning systemwide.”
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Though the New York State standard is 9%, the teachers union is sticking to a smaller standard of 3%, because New York City schools have a higher density.
“Three percent is hard and fast,” said United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew. “This is all part of a plan… we had independent medical experts to help put it together.”
At the moment, the positivity rate citywide over the last week is at 2.83%, while at schools, that number is below 1%. Even Gov. Andrew Cuomo agrees, saying so far things have worked.
“The infection rate in the schools is not the problem, the infection rate in the schools is very low,” Cuomo said.
That has parents like Lauren Lavitt frustrated.
“I’m really disappointed if they close schools,” she said.
She’s hoping if there’s a closure, it’s short lived.
Watch John Dias’ report —
“This is not for the school year. We want to get our schools back open,” Mulgrew said.
The mayor announced some exemptions to the closures, including Pre-K and 3k community organizations.
As CBS2’s John Dias reports, the morning routine at PS 89 hasn’t changed since the Battery Park City school reopened with temperature checks and health screenings. Many parents say precautions are working, but fear a citywide closure is on its way.READ MORE: Brooklyn Mom Wants NYC Apartments Inspected Annually After Parts Of Ceiling Crash Down On 12-Year-Old Son
“The schools are doing a great job, and everyone is doing the best they can,” said Battery Park City resident Brooke Travis.
“The in-person is much more impactful and empowering. I can’t do what the teachers do,” said Erika lackmann.
Staten Island Catholic schools have already gone fully remote, something 4th grader Pedro Klotz doesn’t want to switch back to.
“Because I could see my friends,” he said.
Mulgrew says in order to keep schools open, everyone needs to follow COVID safety guidelines.
“It can’t just be the schools who are doing the right thing. We all gotta follow the rules, and if we wanna get our schools back open, then it’s really up to everyone to start following the rules and taking this seriously,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sunday is the last day to sign up for blended learning. This is for families who have chosen remote-only learning up until now and want their child to return to buildings for in-person instruction on a part-time basis.
This comes as restaurants, bars and gyms across the state have a new daily closing time starting Friday – 10 p.m.
“It hurts on many levels, financially being the biggest,” restaurant owner Shane Hathaway told CBS2’s Ali Bauman.
Last call is now 9 p.m. on Restaurant Row.
“Hopefully, there’s the understanding that because we’re closing earlier, maybe people will start coming out earlier,” Hathaway said.
The governor says a big factor in the rising rates is what we calls “living room spread.”
“‘Well, I’m just with my family. My family would never infect me.’ Your family is not in control of it,” Cuomo said.
One man says at least it’s not as bad as his family has it in Italy under lockdown.
“There is much more freedom and liberty that we have here than the tight restrictions elsewhere,” said Giuseppe Baldassarre.
This weekend, governors of six northeastern states, including Cuomo, will have an emergency summit to discuss aligning COVID policies.
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