New York City schools will remain open for in-person classes on Monday after health officials announced that the city’s 7-day test positivity rate remained under the 3% threshold.
The 7-day average test positivity rate, a measure of how many Covid-19 tests come back positive, was 2.57% as of Sunday morning, according to Bill Neidhardt, a spokesman for de Blasio.
The test results offered a reprieve for at least one more day for the only major school system to reopen for in-person classes since the spring.
As part of negotiations with the teacher’s union, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that schools would return to all remote teaching if the 7-day test positivity rate surpassed 3%. Over the past week, New York City has approached that feared 3% figure, and on Friday, the single-day positivity rate reached 3.09%.
“Schools currently remain open, based on today’s 7-day test positivity rate. Again, we expect the daily test positivity to backfill and increase as more tests results are entered into the system, but do not expect that increase to push today’s 7-day average to 3%,” Neidhardt said in an email.
The mayor offered his gratitude in a tweet and warned against complacency.
“Thankfully, schools will remain open on Monday, but we have to keep fighting back with everything we’ve got,” he said.
No evidence of in-school spread
Schools reopened in September with students and teachers wearing masks, staggered schedules to have fewer students in class each day and gobs of hand sanitizer.
So far at least, there is little evidence that New York City schools have contributed to the virus’s spread. A testing program that aimed to randomly test 10-20% of student and staff populations at each school once a month discovered only 28 coronavirus cases out of 16,348 tests, a miniscule 0.17% positivity rate, de Blasio said last month.
Still, officials said Friday the school system’s 1.1 million students and 75,000 teachers should prepare for a brief period of remote learning “out of an abundance of caution.”
“We’ve faced these challenges before and are prepared for any situation that comes our way,” New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza wrote in a letter to principals on Friday. “New Yorkers have proven they are ready and willing to do the collective work to fight back this virus.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday acknowledged de Blasio’s right to shutter schools at the 3% positivity rate but said he was open to a new statewide policy for keeping classrooms open. The state over the summer set a 7-day average positivity rate that exceeded 9% as the threshold for schools to close.
As cases have increased, the state ordered gyms and businesses serving alcohol to close by 10 p.m. Indoor and outdoor gatherings in private homes in New York state have also been limited to 10 people in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.