NYC schools have been closed since March 16.
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Topline: New York City’s public school system, the largest in the country, will remain closed for the rest of the school year due to the spread of coronavirus, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Saturday—a claim which was immediately disputed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
- De Blasio’s announcement decrees that the nation’s largest public school system, with more than 1.1 million people and about 1,800 schools, will go without regular schooling for more than three months, until September.
- The decision was made out of caution for students, faculty and staff, de Blasio said, as the coronavirus continues to spread across the city and state of New York.
- In his own press conference later on Saturday morning, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was quick to dispute the claim, saying that “there has been no decision” and that it was just de Blasio’s “opinion.”
- Cuomo said he has the authority to reverse the move, and as far as he’s concerned, the decision hasn’t been made: “I understand the mayor’s position,” he said, but added, “it makes no sense for one locality to take an action that doesn’t coordinate with the others.
Key background: As school systems around the country began to close last month amid a rising number of Covid-19 cases, Mayor de Blasio had faced mounting pressure from elected city officials, public health experts, teachers and parents urging him to do the same. Despite being initially reluctant, he eventually shut the public schools until late April on March 16, and has now extended that closure until the next academic year. New York schools shifted to remote learning on March 23, but educators and students have struggled to adjust: Attendance in online classes has been an issue, de Blasio said last week, though the city is yet to release any official data.
What to watch for: Closing down New York City’s school system presents its own set of challenges, however, given that some 750,000 students live at or below the poverty line. Many such students rely on free or discounted meals at school, not to mention don’t have access to the internet or computers at home.
Crucial statistics: New York state is the global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, with over 170,000 cases reported so far—more than any country in the world—and nearly 8,000 deaths. New York City alone has almost 100,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Crucial quote: “There’s nothing easy about this decision,” Mayor de Blasio said during a press briefing.
Further reading: Cuomo: New York’s Curve ‘Is Continuing To Flatten’
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.