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New York City Closes Schools for Academic Year: Live Updates

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ImageNew York City’s public schools have been closed since March 16.
Credit…Brittainy Newman/The New York Times

New York City’s public schools will remain closed through the end of the academic year, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Saturday, confirming that more than three months of regular schooling for 1.1 million children will be lost because of the coronavirus.

“There’s nothing easy about this decision,” Mr. de Blasio said during a news briefing Saturday morning. “Lord knows, having to tell you that we cannot bring our schools back for the remainder of the school year is painful. I can also tell you is the right thing to do. It will clearly help us save lives.”

Roughly 1,800 schools across the city’s five boroughs have scrambled to adjust to remote learning since they were initially closed on March 16, a sudden shift that has presented educators with perhaps the largest challenge of their careers.

The first few weeks of online learning have already transformed the relationship between the city’s students, parents, and educators, who have come to rely on each other in ways unfathomable even a month ago.

“Our educators were asked to learn an entirely new way of teaching,” Mr. de Blasio said Saturday. “They had a week to quickly retool.”

Mr. de Blasio, who made the announcement alongside the city’s schools chancellor, Richard A. Carranza, faced enormous pressure from parents and teachers to close the schools as the virus began its spread through New York City in March. After initially resisting, the mayor ultimately shut the system and said, “This is not something in a million years I could have imagined having to do.”

On Saturday, Mr. Carranza echoed the mayor’s sentiment and urged parents and students to remain patient as the school district grapples with aftershocks of the pandemic.

“The mayor and I absolutely agree that this is in the best interest of all New Yorkers,” he said. “We know that the past few weeks have not been easy. We are going to be here to support you.”

Though New York City is the epicenter of the nation’s coronavirus outbreak, more than a dozen states, including California and Pennsylvania, and many more local school districts have already announced that their public schools will remain closed through the end of the school year.

On March 24, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo offered the public a dire assessment: To stave off a catastrophe, New York might need up to 140,000 hospital beds and as many as 40,000 intensive care units with ventilators.

Two weeks later, however, with an unprecedented lockdown across the state, New York has managed to avoid the apocalyptic vision that some forecasters predicted.

The daily death toll has still been staggering: Mr. Cuomo announced on Friday that another 777 people had died of the coronavirus in New York — the national epicenter of the pandemic — pushing the state’s total to 7,844.

But the number of intensive care beds being used in New York — one of the main measures to track the progress of sick patients — declined for the first time in the crisis on Friday, to 4,908. And the total number hospitalized with the virus, 18,569, was far lower than the darkest expectations.

Indeed, as the hospitalization curves in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut all show early signs of potentially flattening, the pandemic’s reach has so far not matched the many statistical models officials have relied on for weeks as they placed millions of Americans under crippling restrictions.

Asked on Friday whether he feared losing credibility for trusting some models that offered grim projections that have so far not come to pass, Mr. Cuomo said he did not. Instead, he credited the behavior of New Yorkers themselves for creating the discrepancy between the predictions and the actual statistics.

“The statisticians, when they did their curve, did not know how New Yorkers would respond and didn’t know whether or not New Yorkers would comply, and they didn’t know how unified New Yorkers can be,” Mr. Cuomo said at his daily briefing on Friday.

Still, the virus is not going away anytime soon. The total number of confirmed cases in New York State rose by nearly 11,000 from Thursday to Friday, the largest single-day increase yet, and stood at 170,812. The state’s death toll was 7,844 on Friday, and the total for the tristate region of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut surpassed 10,000.

As The New York Times follows the spread of the coronavirus across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, we need your help. We want to talk to doctors, nurses, lab technicians, respiratory therapists, emergency services workers, nursing home managers — anyone who can share what they are seeing in the region’s hospitals and other health care centers. Even if you haven’t seen anything yet, we want to connect now so we can stay in touch in the future.

A reporter or editor may contact you. Your information will not be published without your consent.

Source: NY times

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