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NYC schools to rotate in-person classes; CDC to clarify guidelines

The doors to New York City's P.S. 64 Joseph P. Addabbo are seen closed on May 11. Officials said Wednesday public schools in the city will reopen in September, but students will only be in class for part of each week. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
The doors to New York City's P.S. 64 Joseph P. Addabbo are seen closed on May 11. Officials said Wednesday public schools in the city will reopen in September, but students will only be in class for part of each week. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

July 8 (UPI) -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday that public schools will reopen for fall with reduced in-person classes and Vice President Mike Pence said the Centers for Disease Control would provide "more clarity" on school guidelines.

Students at New York's 1,800 public schools -- the United States' largest school district -- will attend physical classes for one to three days a week and will do the rest of their work remotely, de Blasio said.

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The partial reopening plan is meant to allow more space for the city's 1.1 million students and keep in line with social distancing recommendations of 6 feet surrounding each child.

De Blasio said much of the city's reopening plan depends on children being in school so their parents are able to return to work.

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"So many New Yorkers desperately need to get back to work," de Blasio said. "And for a lot of people, that means they have to get back to a workplace, and they need to know that their kids will be safe and secure, getting a chance to be educated much more deeply."

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Meanwhile, Pence said the CDC will soon release new guidance on reopening schools after President Donald Trump voiced disagreement with existing guidelines.

"I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!" Trump tweeted Thursday.

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CDC guidance issued in May called for 6 feet of distancing between desks, in-classroom lunch, staggered arrival times, mask requirements and daily temperature screenings. CDC Director Robert Redfield said the guidance was not required, but recommended.

Speaking during Wednesday's White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, Pence said the CDC will offer "more clarity" on the guidelines.

"We don't want the guidance from CDC to be a reason why schools don't open," he said. "I think that every American ... knows that we can safely reopen our schools."

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Like many cities and states, New York City shuttered schools and moved to 100 percent online learning in March in the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic. It also closed non-essential businesses to stop the spread of COVID-19, but has slowly reopened in recent weeks as cases eased.

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"I've heard from community members, I've heard from people in the business, community, civic groups, clergy all over the city -- the same message -- everyone's looking to the public school system to indicate the bigger direction of New York City," de Blasio said.

Most students will be in class two to three days a week, while others at more crowded schools may be present for just one day a week, de Blasio added. Families may also choose a fully remote schedule at any time.

Richard Carranza, chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, said students will be grouped into cohorts this fall. One group will attend school each Tuesday and Thursday, while the other attends on Wednesdays and Fridays. The cohorts alternate Mondays.Schools will be supplied with additional cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment, Carranza added, and all students and teachers will be required to wear face coverings. School ventilation systems also are being upgraded.

For several weeks, New York City was the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. The virus has sickened 222,444 people and killed more than 22,500 in the city since the beginning of the outbreak, according to The New York Times.

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