Students return to NYC schools once more after virus closure

Full Screen
1 / 10

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

A parent, center, completes a form granting permission for random COVID-19 testing for students as he arrives with his daughter, left, at P.S. 134 Henrietta Szold Elementary School, Monday, Dec. 7, 2020, in New York. Public schools reopened for in-school learning Monday after being closed since mid-November. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

NEW YORK – It's back to school again for thousands of New York City schoolchildren who returned to classrooms Monday after a roughly two-week shutdown spurred by the city's rising coronavirus caseload.

Public school doors reopened for preschool students and children in kindergarten through fifth grade whose parents chose a mix of in-school and remote learning.

Miriam Petrovitch was among staffers welcoming children back at an elementary school on Manhattan's Lower East Side.

“We miss them dearly,” Petrovitch, who works as a parent coordinator, told reporters at a United Federation of Teachers union news conference. "There’s no school without children."

Special education students in all grades who have particularly complex needs will be welcomed back starting Thursday. Middle and high school will remain all remote at least until after the holiday break.

“This is a good day for New York City, even against a tough backdrop,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday at a virtual news conference from City Hall. The Democrat had greeted children returning to a Bronx elementary school, where “even with a mask on, you could see the smiles” on their faces, he said.

De Blasio announced Nov. 18 that public school buildings would close because the city had crossed a threshold set earlier of 3% of all the coronavirus tests performed over a seven-day period coming back positive.

The rate of positive tests is now around 5%, according to the city's figures, but de Blasio has said it's safe to reopen schools with beefed-up testing protocols — in part because few infections have been linked to transmission inside schools.