NYC schools unlikely to reopen this year, de Blasio says

As New York City’s more than 1 million students officially kick off remote learning, it looks increasingly unlikely they will head back to class this school year due to the spread of the new coronavirus, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.

“I do, unfortunately, believe the likelihood right now is that we lose the whole school year,” he said in an interview with Pix 11, “which is really, really, deeply unfortunate.”

The country’s largest school system closed March 16. The closure was slated to last through at least April 20, but the mayor doubted that buildings would reopen then.

“We’re going to make that judgement as we get closer, but at the trajectory we’re on now, I can’t see it,” de Blasio said.

His comments echoed remarks he has made in recent days as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has soared amid an increase in testing. There were about 16,000 confirmed cases and 114 coronavirus-related deaths, as of Monday morning, according to CNN. More than a third of the nation’s confirmed coronavirus cases are in New York City, de Blasio said this weekend.

Even though Monday marked the first day of online instruction for the country’s largest school system, the mayor also acknowledged that the city is still working to get devices into the hands of all students who need them, as well as internet connection. The city has estimated that 300,000 students still need devices. In the meantime schools have provided printed work packets to families. 

“This is part of why I was so hesitant to close our schools, because we have hundreds of thousands of kids we can’t even reach with distance learning,” he said. “But, we’re going to keep getting more kids laptops and the technology they need, and the WiFi connection. It’s just going to have to be an ongoing thing.”