New York City School Strategy: Test More, But Keep Classrooms Open


“I am more than happy to have my child vaccinated the same day,” she said.

On the first day of school last week, the preliminary attendance rate was just over 82 percent — lower than in previous years. Before the pandemic, the first day turnout rate hovered around 90 percent. Mr de Blasio did not say how many students have returned and said the city would provide more complete data in the coming weeks.

A school, PS 79 in East Harlem, was closed on Mondays and had switched to full distance learning for 10 days, according to the city Covid-19 case map website. More than 400 classrooms were closed.

Annie Tan, a special education teacher in Brooklyn, called the new quarantine rules reckless and said they could lead to a rise in the number of cases. Some parents may not feel comfortable sending students to school after one of their classmates has tested positive for the virus, she said.

“In terms of routine, it’s definitely more stable, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe,” she said.

Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat with less than four months in office, is the first mayor in decades whose children attended public schools and graduated, and his most popular achievement was universal kindergarten. He views the reopening of schools as crucial to tackling inequality and laments how poor families struggled most with distance learning during the pandemic.

He reiterated Monday that the city would not offer a distance learning option except for schools that had to close completely.

“The Chancellor and I are fundamentally convinced that our children should go to school,” he said. “That’s why there isn’t a broad remote option.”

The school’s chancellor, Meisha Porter, said more than 78 percent of the education department’s staff had been vaccinated. She said the city had recently hired 5,200 new teachers and did not expect staff shortages next week when the mandate begins.

“We distributed more than 3,000 vaccines to students and staff on campus during the first few days of school,” she said. “We’re excited about that and we think we’re on the right track.”

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