Public schools in New York City’s 1.1 million-student district will be shuttered for the rest of the academic year, but online education will continue as the city struggles to contain the coronavirus outbreak, Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced.
It was not an easy decision to close schools, Mr de Blasio said, “but it is the right decision and it’s also a decision made a little clearer by the fact that the distance learning is working more and more every day”.
The goal is to reopen school sites by September, and high school graduates may be denied a commencement ceremony, Mr de Blasio said.
School buildings in New York City, the US epicentre of the pandemic, have been closed since March 16.
A massive effort to move instruction online has met mixed success in the city, where many low-income students lack Wi-Fi and devices for connecting to their virtual classrooms.
Tens of thousands of tablets and laptops have been loaned to students who needed them, Mr de Blasio said, and the remaining students who lack devices for online learning will get them by the end of April.
He praised teachers for what he said was a heroic effort to teach their students online, which will now continue through late June, when the school year ends in New York.
“Our educators were asked to learn an entirely different way of teaching,” de Blasio said. “And they weren’t given a year to get ready. They weren’t given a month to get ready. They had a week to quickly retool and turn to distance learning, online learning and make it work.”
Authorities in some other locales, including the states of Virginia and Pennsylvania, have previously announced that schools will be shuttered for the rest of the year.