New York City school buildings will reopen under a phased schedule beginning the second week of December, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday.
Students in grades K-5, 3-K, and pre-kindergarten will return to the classroom first on Dec. 7, de Blasio said. Students in D75 schools at all grade levels will return to in-person learning on Dec. 10.
However, all schools located in orange and red microcluster zones will have to follow the state's guidance in order to reopen.
The mayor said the city will address the future of middle and high schools at a later date. For now, those students will continue with remote learning.
Students will not be allowed to return to in-person classes unless a signed COVID-19 testing consent form has been submitted by a parent or guardian, according to de Blasio. Families can fill out and submit a consent form by visiting, mystudent.nyc.
Additionally, the Department of Education is moving toward having students whose parents chose in-person learning be in the classroom five days a week. De Blasio said some schools are prepared to offer full-time in-person learning as early as Dec. 7, but other schools will need more time to ramp up.
The update comes more than a week after de Blasio announced public school buildings would temporarily close as a result of the city's seven-day coronavirus positivity rate reaching the 3% threshold he previously set.
Students pivoted to all-remote learning on Nov. 19, just days before their Thanksgiving holiday break.
As schools prepare to reopen, de Blasio said the city is taking a new approach to monitoring safety moving forward. The city will no longer use the previous citywide 3% positivity rate threshold to determine the fate of schools.
De Blasio said the 3% threshold was very stringent and purposely set at the start of the academic year amid many unanswered questions and concerns about the pandemic's affect on schools, but the city has since proven that it can keep students and staff safe despite a higher positivity rate.
"We feel confident that we can keep schools safe," he said.
If de Blasio thought the threshold that he mandated for closings was so stringent, why re-open them with city cases at 4% and climbing?