New York City Schools to Close to Contain Spread of Coronavirus

The nation’s largest school district will begin closing early this week.
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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday early evening that all New York City-areas schools, as well as all other school districts in downstate New York, would begin closing early this week.

“I’m very, very concerned that we see a rapid spread of this disease, and it’s time to take more dramatic measures,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday afternoon, according to the New York Times. “This is a decision I have taken with no joy and a lot of pain.”

The New York City school system is the nation’s largest with 1.1 million children, and Governor Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio had initially resisted closing the schools out of concern that many of the city’s health care and front line workers have no other source of child care other than public schools. The city’s school system also provides an important source of food for low-income families. But pressure grew in recent days from educators, parents and other politicians to close the school district.  

Schools will be closed Monday for students and staff, but teachers will be asked to come in later this week to receive training on remote teaching. Mayor DeBlasio said that the plan is to reopen NYC schools on April 20, when the system’s planned spring break is over, but acknowledged the estimate could prove too optimistic. 

New York State has 729 confirmed cases of the virus, Mr. Cuomo said Sunday, with close to half of those cases in New York City, according to the Wall St. Journal.

“[Schools] will all close with a child care plan for essential workers in place, and food programs, and a plan to make up the education services at summer school, assuming we’re out of this during the summer months,” Mr. Cuomo said in a radio interview on WCBS, according to the Wall Street Journal.