NEW YORK (Reuters) ― New York City’s public schools will begin to reopen for in-person learning on Dec. 7, starting with elementary schools, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Sunday.
The schools, which make up the country’s largest school system, were closed less than two weeks ago after the citywide rate of coronavirus tests coming back positive exceeded a 3% benchmark agreed to by the mayor and the teachers’ union.
“It’s a new approach because we have so much proof now of how safe schools can be,” de Blasio told reporters, saying the 3% benchmark was being scrapped.
Pre-kindergarten classes will also reopen Dec. 7. Schools that serve children with special educational needs, known as District 75 schools, will reopen Dec. 10. De Blasio said middle schools and high schools would reopen at later dates that had not yet been set.
Many families have previously opted to keep their children at home for remote learning, but the city also offered so-called “blended” learning, in which students could attend in-person classes a few days each week.
To go into the classroom, students must have a signed consent form agreeing to weekly coronavirus testing or a letter of medical exemption from a doctor, de Blasio said. He said he planned to have in-person learning five days a week when schools reopen.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Leslie Adler and Lisa Shumaker)