Public schools will be open Monday as COVID-19 positivity rate stays below 3%: Mayor

A student exits a school as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Brooklyn, New York
A student exits a school as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Brooklyn on Nov. 13, 2020.
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

New York City’s public schools will open on Monday as scheduled as the citywide COVID-19 positivity rate remains below 3%, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday.

Despite the recent upward trend in COVID-19 cases, the city’s 7-day positivity rate remained below the 3% threshold that would trigger an automatic closing of public schools and shift all instruction to remote learning. On Friday, de Blasio had warned parents and teachers to prepare for a shift that could start as early as Nov. 16.

But the city Health Department reported some good news over the weekend with a more stable 7-day positive rate. The Mayor’s office reported Sunday that that 7-day average rate was 2.57%, with 937 new cases recorded over the past week, on average. There were 117 hospital admissions, of which 31.71% of patients tested positive for COVID-19. 

The Mayor’s office noted that the low positivity rate would likely change due to “backfill, and increase as more test results are entered into the system.” The city does not, however, “expect that increase to push [Sunday’s] 7-day average to 3%.” 

“Thankfully, schools will remain open on Monday, but we have to keep fighting back with everything we’ve got,” de Blasio tweeted on Nov. 15.

The announcement came as the de Blasio Administration received some pushback from parents and educators over the 3% closure policy, which was agreed upon by the city and United Federation of Teachers as part of the school reopening plan created this summer.

On Saturday, Governor Andrew Cuomo urged the city, parents and teachers to take a more sophisticated approach to ordering school closures, and implementing a more localized assessment that targets schools in COVID-19 hot spots for closure rather than closing all schools citywide.