Mayor Billde Blasio of New York announced a plan on Thursday that he dramatically curtail temporary public school closures that have frustrated parents and educators across town in in recent months.
As of Monday, public schools will only have to close for 10 days if four or more cases of coronavirus in separate classrooms are confirmed within seven days, and only if the city's contact tracing program determines that the infections started inside the school. Until now, schools had to close for 10 days when two unrelated cases were detected, regardless of the source of the infection.
The mayor said earlier this week that he would do so.get rid of the so-called two-case rule, which had resulted in more than 200 temporary school closures in the last two weeks of March.
The new rule now applies to individual schools rather than entire buildings. Since many school buildings in New York City house multiple schools, two cases of the virus at a college could force an elementary school without a case on another floor to switch to distance learning for days under the old rule. .
Schools with suspected cases will no longer close for 24 hours while health detectives determine if cases are linked, a change that will eliminate frequent closures short term which were sometimes an announced a few hours before the start of the school day. One or more cases found in individual classrooms will continue to result in ironstemporary measures of this class, but not necessarily of the whole school.
The city will increase testing in schools where at least two cases have been found.
Fully immunized teachers - as well as older high school students who will be eligible for vaccines this week - won't even have to isolate when classrooms are in quarantine. As of Friday, more than 65,000 of the approximately 147,000 employees of the Education Department had been vaccinated.
Parents in New York have until the end of the day Friday to decide if they want to take their children out of learning remotely to in-person lessons.