Coronavirus-related public school closures in the Big Apple have plunged to low single digits with middle schools set to partially reopen Thursday — while nearly a quarter of the education department’s staffers have now been vaccinated against the virus.
Just three city schools were temporarily shuttered on Tuesday due to positive student or staffer cases, according to DOE data.
That’s a freefall from prior months, when hundreds of city schools were often simultaneously locked up due to COVID-19 cases.
On Dec. 22, for example, a total of 272 of 850 operating school buildings were closed because of the coronavirus.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that the city’s existing policy to shutter a school with two or more unrelated COVID-19 cases will be revisited.
“We’ve got to move with the times and new information,” he told reporters. “Clearly our schools have been safe. The abundance of caution was the correct approach in the beginning. But now our kids need to be in school.”
He also said that some 30,000 of the DOE’s 120,000 teachers, guidance counselors, social workers and other workers have now received the COVID-198 vaccine.
Separately, the United Federation of Teachers said that 8,000 members — including educators and paraprofessionals — have received the shot through their testing program.
Neither agency could say Wednesday if City Hall’s overall figure included the union’s tally.
The numbers don’t count teachers and school employees who receive the vaccine privately or out of the city.
Union chief Michael Mulgrew, who has previously chided City Hall for not providing adequate teacher vaccination data, said that more must be done.
“The UFT represents more than 120,000 teachers, guidance counselors, paraprofessionals and other school-based members,” he said in a statement. “Even putting the most positive spin on the city’s numbers, there are tens of thousands of staff who have not yet had access to the vaccine.”
Mulgrew added that the union has scheduled 23,000 vaccinations for members, but that only 8,000 have actually gotten the shot.
There are roughly 75,000 in-class teachers in the nation’s largest school system of roughly one million kids.
While the city and UFT have pushed for widespread teacher vaccinations, de Blasio indicated Wednesday that they weren’t a prerequisite for a wider reopening.
“Long before we even had the vaccine available, we had proven the safety of New York City public schools,” he said.
“Because of the gold standard we’ve set. And that remains true and we’re going to keep bringing schools back and keep vaccinating more and more people at the same time. “
Hizzoner repeated his optimism for a full reopening in September.
“The goal is to continue to have schools open more and more and more,” he said. “And then in September 100-percent full strength.”
While city middle schools are slated to begin opening up Thursday, high schools remain on a fully remote schedule.
Despite the partial revivals, about 70 percent of city kids are still learning solely from home.