Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday some elements of a reopening plan for in-person learning.
He didn’t give a set date for when classrooms would begin to reopen, but he did lay out a plan for which students would go back first.
Similar to the beginning of the school year, students with special needs would be the first to return to in-person learning, followed by 3-K and pre-K students, and then elementary schools.
“We’re going to focus on the most important and most vulnerable elements of our education system,” de Blasio said. "So first of all our special needs kids and families with special needs kids have been saying very, very clearly how much they need in person education. I couldn’t agree with them more."
Hours after the mayor's briefing, advocates filed a class action suit on behalf of the city's more than 200,000 students with disabilities, alleging they have not received mandated services like speech therapy or counseling, or proper teaching during remote learning. The suit asks a judge to require the city to create a system for delivering make-up services to these children. The suit charges that some students with disabilities never received iPads or laptops, or went months without counseling or the support of paraprofessionals.
Schools have been closed for in-person learning since Thursday, a day after the city’s rolling infection rate hit 3%, the trigger set by the de Blasio administration for the closure of school buildings. All public school students are now learning remotely.
De Blasio said that testing students and staff will be crucial to the reopening of schools.
“It will take a lot more testing, a very aggressive approach, a very proactive approach, but we could do it,” de Blasio said. "Testing in fact has to be done in fact in advance of kids and staff coming back to school. And constant testing throughout the school year, much more than we've been dining already and we’ve been doing a lot."
For students to return to school, they must have a test consent form signed by a parent, de Blasio said. This includes all the students that opted in to blended learning over the last few weeks.
The mayor said the city’s average seven-day infection rate remains slightly above 3%. The daily infection rate stands at 2.95%.