NYC to replace ‘two-case rule’ for school closures, extends opt-in deadline for in-person learning

Reopening Schools

NEW YORK — New York City has extended the deadline for parents to opt-in for in-person learning as new plans to replace the  schools’ “two-case rule” are expected.

Given the success in vaccinations and controlling the spread of COVID-19 in city schools, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday officials have decided it is time for a change and do away with the two-case rule.

Schools have been forced to shut down for 10 days if two positive COVID-19 cases were detected. Parents have complained about the rule, arguing it caused instability. 

School Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter said changing the two-case rule was a consistent request by parents and educators. 

“The consistency will do wonders for instruction,” she said. “Without interruptions due to building closures, teachers will be able to continue to connect more deeply with their students and better understand their academic needs.”

No additional details have been released, but the mayor said plans will be announced in the coming days, and he wanted to make the announcement to give parents more time to think about their decision.

The city will work with unions that represent all school employees on the new rule. 

Parents now have until Friday, April 9 to decide whether or not they want their children to return to school buildings for the rest of the academic year.

This will be the last opt-in period for children for the 2020-21 school year. 

Parents can opt their child back into in-person learning through the Department of Education’s website. 

“As always, we will monitor the situation very carefully with our situation room, with our department of health, always focusing on health and safety. This is why our schools have been exceptional throughout,” the mayor said.

President of the United Federation of Teachers Michael Mulgrew said the decision cannot be made without the state’s approval.

“A proclamation is not a plan.  The city can’t change the two-case rule without Albany’s approval.

Thanks to the effectiveness and availability of vaccines, the percentage of adults testing positive for COVID has declined.  But students now account for two-thirds of the new infections.  We have been talking to our medical experts, and we will continue to discuss these issues with the city.  

Any change to the two-case rule has to take the safety of children and their families into account, not the Mayor’s need for a Monday morning announcement.”

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