NYC mayor: Public schools will be all in person this fall

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Bill de Blasio

FILE – In this Monday, April 12, 2021 file photo, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers remarks in Times Square after he toured the grand opening of a Broadway COVID-19 vaccination site intended to jump-start the city’s entertainment industry, in New York. Blasio expects the city to “fully reopen” by July 1, with the lifting of the city’s COVID-19 restrictions. He told MSNBC the city will be ready for stores, offices and theaters to open at full strength. He cited improved COVID-19 vaccination rates and decreasing hospitalization rates. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

New York City schools will be all in person this fall with no remote options, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday.

“We can’t have a full recovery without full-strength schools, everyone back, sitting in those classrooms, kids learning again,” de Blasio said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

The roughly 1 million students who attend traditional public schools will be in their classrooms with some version of the coronavirus protocols that have been in place in the current academic year, including mask wearing and COVID-19 testing, de Blasio said.

“It’s time. It’s really time to go full strength now,” he said.

After closing schools in March 2020, New York City was one of the first large U.S. cities to reopen school buildings in the fall of that year, but the majority of parents chose online-only learning for their children.

Children and staff members who have been in physical schoolrooms have been randomly tested for COVID-19, and the city has reported very low rates of virus transmission in the schools.

Asked how city education officials could overcome the fears of parents who have thus far chosen online-only learning for their children, de Blasio, a Democrat, said that “a lot of information, a lot of communication” would be the answer.

He said parents would be invited to visit their children’s schools starting in June to get “reacclimated” to the idea of in-person school.

“Anyone who has a question or concern, come into your child’s school. See what’s going on, get the answers,” the mayor said.

De Blasio said city schools would be able to accommodate all students under current guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that call for 3 feet of separation, but he speculated that the standard may be relaxed before the city’s public schools open on Sept. 13.

“I think the CDC’ll be changing those rules quite a bit between now and September,” de Blasio said. “But right now in New York City, we could have every child three feet apart, we could make that work if we had to.”

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