NYC mayor reopens elementary schools under pressure from parents, but hints no return to norm without vaccine

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New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio has announced that pre-k and elementary schools will reopen on December 7. The decision comes less than two weeks after he ordered all public schools to close due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“One of the things that’s been very clear is folks wanted school to keep moving forward and be open so long as it could be done safely,” De Blasio said at a press conference. 

“A lot of people have been saying, rightfully, a lot of parents, we’ve heard your voices loud and clear: you wanted schools back open, but we’re going to ask everyone to be a part of that, everyone to participate to make it work,” the mayor said, noting that testing consent forms will be required for students. Under the new guidelines, 20 percent of every student body be tested on a weekly basis. Students were previously tested for the virus monthly. 

De Blasio said he wants in-person schooling to happen “as much as possible,” adding that the release of a vaccine will lead to more schools reopening.

This will be the model for the duration. This is what is going to take us through to when we have a vaccine and we can start to then open up a lot more in our schools

Protesters gathered this month in front of City Hall in Manhattan to protest the last-minute closure of public schools, while some private schools remained open.

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Health officials have also recently been skeptical of in-person schooling being dangerous amid the pandemic. CDC Director Robert Redfield has said school is the “safest” place for children to be, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, who sits on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said on Sunday he’d like to see schools reopened and data shows the virus spreading among children is quite rare. 

De Blasio’s partial reversal on school closures has been celebrated on social media, especially by those who have been critical of the mayor’s approach to battling the pandemic, though some have questioned the quick reversal and wondered whether it means De Blasio could flip-flop more on the issue.

“The school openings in NYC is a huge win for those that shouted and shamed @NYCMayor to finally do what was best for our kids,” Fox News meteorologist and author Janice Dean tweeted. 

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