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New York City public schools won’t fully reopen for its 1.1 million students this fall, Mayor de Blasio says

New York City public schools, the nation’s largest school system, won’t fully reopen this fall as the city tries to keep the coronavirus epidemic under control, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

The district, which has 1.1 million students, will use a combination of in-person class and remote learning, he said. The “vast majority” of students will attend in-person class for two or three days each week, de Blasio said. 

“Basically, this blended model — this kind of split schedule model — is what we can do under current conditions,” de Blasio said, citing the need to maintain social distancing. “And then, let’s hope and pray science helps us out with a vaccine, with a cure, treatment, the things that will allow us to go farther.” 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) speaks at a press conference about COVID-19.

Michael Brochstein | Barcroft Media | Getty Images

De Blasio’s announcement comes as school districts across the U.S. develop plans for learning this fall, after the Covid-19 outbreak forced many to shift to online teaching in March. Although the nation continues to grapple with rising coronavirus cases, the fate the upcoming school year has come into focus for its importance to the development of students and its role in aiding the U.S. economic recovery.  

President Donald Trump has been pushing districts to fully reopen, threatening earlier Wednesday to withhold federal funding from schools that do not resume in-person classes this fall. Trump also criticized school guidelines put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, calling them “very tough” and “expensive.” 

“We’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools, to get them open,” Trump said at a White House event Tuesday afternoon. “It’s very important for our country. It’s very important for the well-being of the student and the parents.” 

Richard Carranza, New York City’s schools chancellor, stressed that students will be learning five days a week. But, he said, proper social distancing cannot be maintained if every student attends in-person class each day. 

“Health and safety requires us to have fewer students in the building at the same time, so for the 2020-21 school year it will look different,” Carranza said. “Our city has been to hell and back. We do not want to return to that so we are going to make sure that our schools are safe for our families, our students and for our staff.”  

De Blasio acknowledged the challenges associated with remote learning, saying he understood it is “not perfect.” 

“But we’ve also seen a lot kids benefit greatly from it during these last months, and we know we’ll be able to do it even better in the months ahead,” he said. 

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