New York City public schools will be closed, effective Monday, in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the city. In an emotional press conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Sunday night that the nation’s largest public-school system would be closed until at least April 20, and at maximum, through the entire academic year. The mayor said he was “distraught at having to take this action.”
Remote learning will begin on March 23, which means the city will have a week to build up the capability for some 1.1 million students. The mayor said that teachers will receive “a kind of battlefield training” in how to teach remotely over the coming days.
Schools will remain open for the next five days to provide grab-and-go meals to children who need them — and only that. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.
The city will also work to set up specialized sites to provide child care for essential workers, like health-care and transit workers, who depend on the school system to take care of their kids during the day.
“I have to be honest that we’re dealing with a lot of unknowns and a lot of challenges,” de Blasio emphasized, regarding the possible reopening date, and noting that school — in the city’s school buildings at least — may not resume at all for the remainder of the school year.
Earlier on Sunday, Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk counties closed their schools for two weeks due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
New York City was also facing pressure from teachers to close down the school system. The United Federation of Teachers had asked parents to call 311 to complain about schools not closing. There were also plans for teachers to stay home in an attempt to force the issue.
This is a developing story and this post will be updated.
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