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New York Schools’ Covid Strategy: Test More, But Keep Classrooms Open

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

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

One school, PS 79 in East Harlem, was closed on Monday and switched to fully distance learning for 10 days, according to the city’s Covid-19 case map website. More than 400 classrooms have been closed.

Annie Tan, a special education teacher in Brooklyn, called the new quarantine rules unwise and said they could lead to an increase in cases. Some parents might not feel comfortable sending students to school after a classmate tested positive for the virus, she said.

“In terms of routine, of course, it’s 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 have attended and graduated from public schools, and his most popular achievement has been the universal preschool. He sees the reopening of schools as crucial to tackling inequalities and lamented how poor families struggled the most with distance learning during the pandemic.

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

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

Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter said more than 78 percent of education department employees were vaccinated. She said the city had recently hired 5,200 new teachers and did not expect a staff shortage next week when the term begins.

“We distributed over 3,000 vaccines to students and campus staff in the first few days of school,” she said. “We are delighted with this and believe we are going in the right direction. “

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