Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Authorities instructed hundreds of New York City teachers to stay home Tuesday instead of returning to school to prepare classrooms as a report surfaced of poor ventilation in 21 schools.
Inspectors in a Ventilation Action Team said 21 schools housed in 10 buildings citywide were not fit for teachers returning to prepare for in-person classes on Sept. 21 due to poor ventilation.
The citywide report also shows that out of 64,550 total classrooms inspected, 96% were operational.
"If any classroom is not ready, it will not be used," De Blasio said. "But, thank God, the overwhelming majority of classrooms are ready right now."
De Blasio added that there will be free child care for 30,000 students on days students learn remotely through a program called "learning bridges," which will prioritize families with the greatest need.
The teachers' union said that the buildings that failed inspection are being shut down indefinitely, and city officials said that if repairs are not possible, they would look for alternative spaces.
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said he expects most of the 10 currently unfit buildings to still be ready by Sept. 21.
"Now that there are 10 buildings that we've identified as needing repairs across the board, we're prioritizing these buildings to get all systems up to par by the 21st of September," Carranza said. "Meanwhile, staff at those buildings will be temporarily working from home."
New York has reported 444,751 COVID-19 cases and 5,271 deaths since the pandemic began. Per 100,000 people in the state, there are 2,286 cases statewide. In New York City, there have been 7,550 COVID-19 cases in people, ages 0-17, representing 3.3% of total cases, and 12 deaths in ages 0-17, which is 0.1 percent of total deaths, an American Academy of Pediatrics report shows.
Once the epicenter of COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, the rate slowed after New York City closed nonessential businesses, CNBC reported.
The governor also criticized President Donald Trump at the briefing, saying he "caused the COVID[-19] outbreak in New York," adding that the federal ban on travel from Europe was "too little, too late."
Cuomo also accused Trump of "actively trying to kill New York City" and called on Congress and the White House to step up and provide needed COVID-19 relief.
The governor also criticized Trump for failing to approve or fund transit projects, such as the Second Avenue Subway and AirTrain LaGuardia.
He further criticized the president for signing a cap on the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes, known as SALT, with experts saying states such as New York, New Jersey and California, have felt a disproportionate burden from the $10,000 cap on itemized deductions for state and local taxes.
"This is a war on cities ... It is an unsustainable position for the federal government," Cuomo said. "Either this president will figure it out, or the next president will figure it out. If the Congress doesn't figure it out, there'll be mayhem in this country and there will be a different Congress in January. That is my political opinion."
He also warned that as the state enters a "post-Labor Day phase," the flu season threatens to make response to COVID-19 more complicated.
Cuomo criticized Trump last week after the president threatened in a memorandum to withhold federal funds from Democratic-led cities. Trump called for a review of funding in cities where he said "outrageous acts of violence and destruction have continued," such as New York, Portland and Seattle.
Cuomo called the threat "another attempt to kill New York City."