NYC schools to shut as Covid-19 positivity rate spikes. Image Source: IANS News

New York, Nov 30 : New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza have announced a plan to safely reopen school buildings for in-person classes with more rigorous testing protocols in place.

Students in 3-K and Pre-K programs, as well as those in grade K through grade 5 who have opted for in-person learning will return to school buildings on December 7, and schools serving students with the most significant disabilities, known as District 75, will return on December 10, according to the plan unveiled on Sunday.

Middle and high schools will remain remote for the time being.

"Reopening our buildings is paramount to our city's recovery from Covid-19," said de Blasio.

"That's why we are doubling down on the safety and health measures that work to make in-person learning a reality for so many of our students." "Getting our kids back in school buildings is one of the single most important things we can do for their wellbeing, and it's so important that we do it right," said Carranza.

"The unparalleled value of in-person learning for students has been evident in the first few months of school, and we will do everything we can to keep our schools safe and keep them open for the duration of this pandemic." By the time students return to buildings on December 7, a consent form for testing will be required for all students and staff, and every school will participate in weekly random testing for 20 per cent of their in-person population.

Parents can fill out the consent form online using a New York City Schools Account (NYCSA) at mystudent.nyc or print and sign the form and bring it to school on their first day back to buildings.

According to the plan, schools will also continue to work toward accommodating students in person five days per week.

This includes the approximately 300,000 students who have shown up to in-person learning so far, and the 35,000 students who opted-in earlier this month, said the plan.

Superintendents will work with their schools to adjust schedules as needed with the goal of full-time in-person education in the coming weeks for the students who have selected that option, it added.

According to de Blasio, the city would abandon a 3 per cent test positivity threshold that it had adopted for closing the school system, the largest in the country, with 1.1 million children.

"Whatever happens ahead, we want this to be the plan going forward," the mayor said at a news conference.

"We know what we didn't know over the summer, we know what works from actual experience." Less than eight weeks after school buildings reopened, the Mayor on November 18 again shut schools down as a second wave of the pandemic threatened the city and the its coronavirus infection rate on a seven-day average topped 3 per cent, it added.

As of Sunday evening, the coronavirus deaths added up to 24,268 and the confirmed cases to 307,181 in New York City.

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