Watch CBS News

NYC Unveils Plan For Schools In The Event Student, Teacher Tests Positive For Coronavirus

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New York City has announced a plan if a student or teacher tests positive for coronavirus.

That school will close for 24 hours, and then authorities will reassess the situation.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio agree. As a general rule, schools will not close for extending period of time unless there are special circumstances.

De Blasio called it a common sense measure.

CORONAVIRUS: CDC Latest | NY Health Dept. | NYC Health Dept. | NY Hotline: 1-888-364-3065 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Hotline: 1-800-222-1222 | CT Hotline: 211

"I take that as a 24-hour kind of time out, where we get the information out and we do the work we have to do," de Blasio said.

Some students seen playing outside the Department of Education headquarters, where they attend class, are among the 1.1 million city school children who will be watched carefully, as will their teachers, for any signs of the coronavirus. But because of a number of concerns, officials say they will not try to close schools for long periods of time.

Watch: Mayor Bill de Blasio Gives Coronavirus Update

During the 24-hour closure, the schools will be cleaned and a disease detective assigned to see if the students or teacher had close contact with others.

"Was the child working very closely, intensely with a teacher or a tutor? Did the child have a best friend that they're always together and constantly really close to each other. Those are the types of things we'll be looking for," de Blasio said.

Officials want to limit school closures, they say, because of concerns that working parents will have no child care options, and the large number of New York City students who depend on the city for free meals. Their breakfasts and lunches may be their only source of nutrition.


"We want pinpoint accuracy. We want to make sure schools are closed only for the period of time that it needs to be, because there are so many parents depend on that school," de Blasio said. "We want to keep those closures minimal."

City Council Health Committee Chair Mark Levine shares those concerns.

"We have health officials who are looking at this every moment and they will close the schools if they feel that the risk is significant," Levine said. "There are kids who rely on seeing a school nurse in the school building, and might lack access to primary medical care. And for the parents, closing the schools might mean that they have no child care and they have to stay home from work."

As a precaution, New York City is making sure it has enough substitute teachers if that need exists. They're also making plans for remote learning, if that's necessary, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported.

De Blasio said it was unlikely that he would close the schools. He would also not close the city, and so far has no plans to cancel the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

The mayor said he wants the city to be open, for businesses to do as much business as it can, to keep the economy running.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.