Mayor de Blasio announces new ‘four case’ rule for public school closures

School classroom with blackboard
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Under a new policy, New York City public schools will now close after four unlinked COVID-19 cases are detected in buildings, officials announced Thursday. 

The new rule will replace the Department of Education’s “two case” police which forced schools to close if two cases of the virus not connected by classroom or cohort were detected in a school building. Under the new rule, one confirmed COVID-19 case in a classroom will force those students to then go remote and two or three cases in a week will lead to increased testing but not a closure. 

De Blasio said that under the new policy schools will be able to stay open more consistently. “We want to keep getting more and more kids back and what we heard from parents is they want to come, they are really concerned about the school schedules and the unpredictability,” said de Blasio. 

De Blasio added that the city worked with teachers’ unions to figure out “the right approach going forward” and more agreements will come with stakeholders in school communities to ensure extra support for kids’ academic and mental health needs. 

“Now, with our increased knowledge about the spread of the virus, and as more teachers and other school staff have been vaccinated, our medical experts are convinced that the rule can be changed and still maintain safety,” said President of United Federation of Teachers Michael Mulgrew. 

“Our goal, then and now, is to ensure that the school building does not become a center for the spread of the virus from the community.” 

So far, about 65,000 teachers have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Mayor de Blasio. 

“We are going to be asking a lot of our educators and our school staff as school comes back,” said de Blasio. “We need to be there for them too, providing the proper supports so that kids and families have what they need.”  

The new rule should go into effect on Monday, according to Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter.