New York City is moving to shut down schools, restaurant dining and nonessential businesses in nine Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods undergoing a surge in COVID-19 cases, Mayor de Blasio said Sunday.
The shutdown — which would mark a significant reversal to the painstaking, months-long process of reopening the city — will start Wednesday pending state approval, he added.
“The goal here is to do everything we can to stop something bigger from happening right now,” Hizzoner said at a press conference.
“It will require sacrifice. We’re talking about people who have been through so much,” he continued. “But it’s something that we believe is necessary to keep this city from going backwards towards where we were months ago.”
The city is targeting nine areas, including predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, where cases began to flare up last month. Those include Bensonhurst, Borough Park, Gravesend, Midwood and Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, along with Far Rockaway and Kew Gardens in Queens.
If the state approves de Blasio’s plan, students in those areas will be able attend public and private school in person on Monday and Tuesday, but will have to shift to online-only learning starting Wednesday.
“Those two days are going to give us crucial time to make sure students have the devices they need for the remote learning tenure they will have,” said Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza. “They’ll allow us also to communicate with families, to set up schedules for remote learning.”
Both indoor and outdoor dining would be banned, but houses of worship will be allowed to stay open for now.
Most New York City schools haven’t even been open a full week, and already Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plans have hit a major setback: He wants to shut down campuses as of Wednesday in nine ZIP codes where coronavirus positivity rates had surpassed a 3% over at least the past seven days.
The closures, which de Blasio announced Sunday, would affect about 100 public schools in Far Rockaway, Southern Brooklyn, and Central Queens neighborhoods. Some 200 private schools in those areas are also slated to close.Children in closed schools will begin learning remotely on Wednesday, less than a week after all but one district building officially reopened for hybrid learning, a model that allows students to learn in-person one to three days a week in socially distanced classrooms, while learning remotely the rest of the time.
Schools will be allowed to stay open through Tuesday so teachers can help students prepare for fully virtual learning and hand out additional devices, de Blasio said.
That decision immediately prompted outcry from some city lawmakers and educators who wondered why they need to be closed imminently but are safe enough to stay open for the next three days.
The mayor “just announced that it’s NOT safe to go to school in 9 zip codes, but is encouraging kids to get 1 more day inside school before they close,” tweeted Councilman Mark Treyger, who is the chairman of the city council’s education committee.