COVID cases close nearly 60 NYC classrooms in first 2 days: DOE data

Local News
nyc students wearing masks

Students wear protective masks as they arrive for classes at the Immaculate Conception School in the Bronx on Sept. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

NEW YORK — More than 200 students and staff in New York City’s public schools tested positive for COVID-19 in the first two days of the academic year, forcing the closure of dozens of classrooms, according to Department of Education data.

As of Tuesday evening, the confirmed cumulative number of COVID-19 cases spanning Monday and Tuesday was 105 students and 113 staff, for a total of 218. 

The new cases resulted in the full closure and quarantine of at least 58 classrooms as well as 86 partial closures. A partial closure, according to the DOE COVID Response Situation Room, takes place in middle or high schools where only some class members may need to quarantine depending on vaccination status since most students in those grades are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

There were also 13 instances of non-classroom quarantine, which happens when a school staff member who wouldn’t necessarily be in a classroom tests positive, triggering an individual quarantine that would not affect an entire class.

When combined with case-related closures reported prior to the first day of school, there were a total of 67 full classroom closures, 126 partial closures and 24 non-classroom quarantines, according to DOE data.

While no schools have been fully shut down due to widespread COVID transmission, the closure of individual classrooms means hundreds of students have started the school year with little-to-no in-person learning. 

The DOE broke down instruction plans for students in the event of any type of COVID-related closure dependent on vaccination status in the chart below:

Student Vax StatusQuarantine TypeInstruction Type
UnvaccinatedFull classroomSynchronous remote
UnvaccinatedPartial classroomAsynchronous remote
UnvaccinatedFull classroomSynchronous remote
VaccinatedPartial classAsynchronous remote

Full-time, in-person learning started on Monday for about 1 million New York City public school students despite the persistence of the highly transmissible delta variant of COVID-19.

The DOE reported an 82.4% attendance rate for the first day of school — up from around 80% in 2020. In 2019, the last full school year prior to the pandemic, the attendance rate was around 90%.

The city managed to keep schools open for most of the last school year, with some students doing a mix of remote and in-person instruction. However, the majority of families chose all-remote learning, which was not an option this year.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has stressed the need for students to return to the classroom.

“There are kids who have not been in a classroom in a year and a half, and they deserve better,” de Blasio said on Monday. “Kids need to be back in school for their mental health, their physical health, their ability to develop socially, and for so many reasons.”

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