NYC parents unleash fury after news that schools will close as restaurants, gyms remain open

NYC parents unleash fury after news that schools will close as restaurants, gyms remain open
City council members, parents, and students participate in an outdoor learning demonstration in front of a public school in Red Hook, Brooklyn, on September 2, 2020.Spencer Platt/Getty Images
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that schools would return to all-remote learning on Thursday.
  • The closures come after New York City reached an average coronavirus positivity rate of 3% over the last seven days.
  • The news has angered parents, who have quickly banded together to voice frustration, petition, and protest the decision.
  • Many parents have criticized the fact that gyms and restaurants remain open for now, though their future is undecided.

On Wednesday, principals across the country's largest school district, New York City, received the message that all schools would close indefinitely and students will return to remote-only learning on Thursday.

The news has been met with criticism from parents across the district, who have banded together to voice frustration, petition, and protest the decision.

As schools close, the city's gyms and restaurants remain open for now, though their future is undecided.
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The decision was made after coronavirus positivity rates in the city reached 3% over a 7-day average

Classrooms have been open for less than eight weeks, but today, the school district's chancellor, Richard Carranza, sent the email to principals following a seven-day coronavirus positivity rate of 3% across the city.

"New York City has reached the 3% testing positivity 7-day average threshold. Unfortunately, this means public school buildings will be closed as of tomorrow, Thursday Nov. 19, out an abundance of caution. We must fight back the second wave of COVID-19," Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Tuesday afternoon.

De Blasio announced that the closures are temporary but that schools will not automatically reopen if the positivity rate falls below 3%, according to The New York Times.
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Instead, he said he plans to wait until rates have stabilized, citing that it would be too disruptive to move between in-person and online learning every few days.

However, it will remain a priority to reopen schools, according to Carranza."The Mayor & I have been clear-eyed since the beginning that we needed to get students back into classrooms as soon as it was safe," Carranza said in a tweet. "And we carry that same urgency with us today as we announce this temporary closure: we will get students back in buildings as soon as we can, safely."
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The mayor's public health team landed on the 3% positivity rate over the summer. Some parents feel that the number is arbitrary.

As coronavirus rates rose in New York City last week, de Blasio told parents on Friday to prepare a plan in the event the city closed schools and moved to remote learning.

About 300,000 of the district's 1.1 million students are currently attending school in person, according to The New York Times.
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Parents are voicing their frustration on social media

Prior to the official announcement that schools would close, a Twitter account, #KeepNYCSchoolsOpen, formed. In its bio, the group describes itself as "a diverse coalition of NYC public school families who want to #KeepNYCSchoolsOpen."

Elsewhere on Twitter, many parents are angered by the fact schools are closing while restaurants, bars, and gyms appear to remain open.

It's worth noting that the future of gyms and indoor dining in New York City is still undecided. As an Eater article points out, de Blasio has suggested that further regulations could be announced soon.
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In Wednesday's press conference, de Blasio said he had spoken to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo "several times," adding that "he has laid out some of the additional measures that the state will likely be taking quite soon in New York City," according to Eater.

Parents have launched petitions and protests in an effort to reverse the decision

Last week, parent Daniela Jampel started a Change.org petition to gather signatures to keep New York City schools open. The petition has close to 12,000 signatures at the time of writing.

Parents plan to protest the decision on Thursday, hand-delivering the petition to City Hall and Cuomo, according to tweets.
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In the district, positive coronavirus rates remain low, according to data cited by The New York Times.

However, New York, as a whole, is experiencing a spike in positive cases. In the last week, the state has had a 2.88% positive test rate, compared to last month, when it had dipped below 1%.Since March, more than 568,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 34,000 deaths have been reported in the state, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
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