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De Blasio To Reopen Elementary Schools After Abruptly Closing Them
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 19: A classroom is empty with the lights off on what would otherwise be a blended learning school day on November 19, 2020 at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 in New York City. NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio had to return the nation’s largest district had to all-remote teaching/learning as of today, with an indefinite outlook for reopening.
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday he will re-open public elementary schools beginning in early December, a decision that comes less than two weeks after he pulled the rug out from under parents and students by closing the public school system for in-person learning.

Under the new rules, many elementary school-aged children will be allowed to return to school five days a week for in-person learning, as will children already enrolled in Pre-K, beginning on December 7, reports The New York Times. Most students with disabilities will also be allowed to return to school several days after elementary schools can open.

“We will have testing that is going to go from monthly in every school to weekly in every school,” de Blasio said in a press conference Sunday, noting that public school “students will not be able to attend school unless they have a consent form” signed by a parent.

But in order to attend in-person school, students will already need to have been enrolled in hybrid learning classes. The Times reports that about 335,000 students are hybrid-enrolled, among them 190,000 elementary-age or otherwise eligible students.

“We’ll have in-person instruction for those who are part of that approach. Remote for all other kids,” said the mayor.

Many parents voiced outrage after de Blasio shuttered the public school system earlier this month, an apparent effort to stick to the 3% 7-day-average coronavirus case positivity threshold he established for shutting down the school system earlier this year.

“I am furious. I was furious two weeks ago. I was furious last week when schools closed and I am furious today that schools are still closed,” New York City parent Daniela Kampel told CBS News in an interview.

Back in the summer, de Blasio adopted the 3% threshold as part of an effort to get otherwise hesitant teachers and public school employees on-board with re-opening. That said, the New York City mayor’s new strategy abandoning the 3% threshold seems to have the support of the teacher’s union.

“We are supportive of a phased reopening of schools in other neighborhoods as long as stringent testing is in place. This strategy — properly implemented — will allow us to offer safe in-person instruction to the maximum number of students until we beat the pandemic,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers.

Since the beginning of the academic year, enrollment in the New York City public school system has dropped by about 3.2% over past years, a downward trend that has been seen in other districts and states across the country, such as Montana, Utah, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Los Angeles Unified School District — the second largest public school district in the country.

Related: Report: Public School Enrollment Dropping Across The Country

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