New York City public schools have reported just 18 positive coronavirus cases among staff and students since opening for in-person learning last month, reinforcing hopes that students can return to schools safely across the U.S. during the pandemic.
The New York City school district, the largest in the nation with 1.1 million students, began offering in-person learning in late September, allowing students to return to school by October 1. Roughly half of students in the district have opted for online learning only, while most of the remaining cohort participates in hybrid in-person and online learning.
The arrangement has reduced class sizes and allowed school staff to implement some social-distancing measures, the New York Times reported on Monday.
The city health department began a random testing regimen in the school system last week, with 15,111 staff and students tested so far. Results have come in for 10,676 of those tests, with just 13 staff and five students testing positive for coronavirus.
“That data is encouraging,” Paula White, executive director of teachers’ group Educators for Excellence, told the Times. “It reinforces what we have heard about schools not being super spreaders.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio has clashed with city teachers unions regarding the school reopening plan. The threat of a teacher strike led de Blasio to delay the full reopening of city schools in September. Meanwhile the city’s principals union, the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, passed a vote of no-confidence in de Blasio and Department of Education head Richard Carranza, calling on the state to intervene in the district reopening.