New York City public schools will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year due to the spread of the coronavirus, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Saturday.
“There’s nothing easy about this decision,” the mayor said during a press briefing. The decision confirms that 1.1 million students in the largest school system in the country will go without routine schooling for more than three months this year.
About 1,800 schools in the city’s five boroughs initially shut down and shifted to remote education on March 16, creating a slew of massive challenges for teachers, parents and students.
School closings have been a serious problem for students who don’t have access to internet or computers at home. Roughly three-quarters of the city’s public school system is comprised of low-income children who receive free or discounted meals at school. The city has struggled to lend out equipment to students and has left some school buildings open for parents to pick up food.
The mayor faced intense pressure from teachers and parents calling for the suspension of classes, and was initially reluctant before suspending schools until late April. He said on Saturday that closing schools for the rest of the year is “painful” but “the right thing to do.”
“It clearly will help us save lives because it will help us guarantee that the strategies that have been working,” he said on Saturday. “The shelter-in-place, the social distancing, all the focused strategies that are finally beginning to bear fruit, they need the time to continue to be effective.”
“The worst mistake we could make is to take our foot off the gas and end up in a situation where this disease had a resurgence and threatened us even more,” de Blasio said. “We’re not gonna allow the coronavirus to start to attack us even more and to make sure it doesn’t, we have to be cautious.”
-- Jasmine Kim contributed reporting