The mayor today announced a phased-in reopening plan that will enable elementary school and District 75 students to receive in-person instruction as early as Dec. 7 in parts of the city where transmission rates remain low. At our insistence, the city is implementing much stricter testing measures in all school buildings that reopen so we can keep our communities safe.
Students in pre-kindergarten programs through fifth grade can return to in-person learning on Dec. 7, and students in District 75 can return to classrooms on Dec. 10. Students in grades 6 to 12 will continue to learn remotely. Elementary and District 75 schools in the state’s orange and red zones will continue to abide by the state’s 3% rule for staying remote. You can see if your school is one of currently 43 elementary or District 75 schools in a red or orange zone at nyc.gov/covidzone.
The mayor is now following the state’s system, introduced in October, of yellow, orange and red zones based on virus transmission rates. The state closes not only school buildings, but also gyms, indoor dining, bars and other nonessential businesses in orange and red zones — a more comprehensive approach to keeping the virus in check that is endorsed by independent medical experts.
In response to our demands and updated state guidelines, the city will adopt these more stringent in-school testing measures once in-person learning resumes:
**Mandatory weekly testing: Twenty percent of all in-person students and staff in schools will be randomly tested on a weekly basis.
**Student consent: All students returning to the classroom must return to school with a signed consent form. The only exceptions will be District 75 students who are medically exempt, and students in 3-K, pre-K or kindergarten.
**Staff consent: All in-person staff are required to provide consent by the first day they report to their school building.
About 195,000 elementary and District 75 students whose parents signed up for in-person learning can return. The DOE is instructing principals to reprogram their schools to enable as much in-person learning as possible while abiding by all the safety and social-distancing protocols established in September. Schools can resume in-person instruction five days a week if they can do it safely.
In adopting the state’s micro-targeting system, the mayor has shifted from the 3% citywide threshold for suspending in-person instruction in all schools to a geographic approach that is aligned with neighborhood transmission rates. We have long advised the mayor that a targeted approach made more sense in a city as large and diverse as ours.
The comprehensive safety plan that made our schools among the safest spaces in the city will remain in effect when in-person learning resumes. The current protocols for quarantining classrooms and closing school buildings when positive tests occur will stay in place, too.
The mayor’s reopening plan — properly implemented — will allow us to offer safe, in-person instruction to our most vulnerable students until we beat the virus.
Our overarching goal is to get to the end of this pandemic safely. We must continue to remain vigilant and keep each other safe.