nyc public school social distancenyc public school social distance

Socially distanced fifth graders at an NYC public school in June 2020, ahead of their virtual graduation.

Michael Loccissano/Getty Images


  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio finally announced a plan to reopen the city’s 1,800 public schools on July 8, according to The New York Times.
  • The city’s 1.1 million students have been learning remotely since schools closed on March 16 — and under de Blasio’s proposal, they will continue to do so, for the most part.
  • The plan would have students attend class from one to 3 days a week. Classrooms that typically had 30 people would shrink to roughly 12, including teachers.
  • Schools that can accommodate at least half the student body with 6-foot social distancing guidelines would be able to have in-person classes 2 to 3 days a week, while lower-capacity schools would only have in-person classes one to 2 days a week. Under de Blasio’s plan, individual school leadership would determine the best schedules for students by August.
  • New York City, although the nation’s largest district, is not the only one to consider a hybrid in-person and remote learning model for the upcoming school year, as lower-density classrooms and staggered schedules are potentially the best chance at hampering the spread of the coronavirus.
  • The proposal comes as President Donald Trump threatened to cut off school funding, something he cannot do. Cuomo, who hasn’t signed off on de Blasio’s plan yet, also rejected Trump’s directive: “School reopenings are a state decision. Period.”
  • On July 13, Cuomo sounded off on the plan, saying schools will reopen if a region is in phase four and the daily infection rate remains below 5% for an average of 14 days. He said they will close again if the infection rate exceeds 9% for an average of seven days. That means New York City doesn’t quite meet the requirements yet.
  • “We’re not going to use our children as guinea pigs,” Cuomo said. “Everybody wants to reopen schools, but you only reopen if it’s safe to reopen and that’s determined by data.”
  • The same day, the state released 28 pages of guidance on reopening schools, including information on mask requirements and temperature checks. Individual schools are required to have a reopening plan by July 31.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

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