The two largest US public school districts, New York City and Los Angeles, unveiled plans to completely reopen schools on Monday (May 24), part of a parent-led national movement despite a persistent decrease in COVID-19 diseases and an increase in vaccinations.
“It’s time for everyone to come back, it’s time for us all to be together, time to do things the way they were meant to be done,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference.
The city’s 1.1 million public school students have adopted different learning practices so far this year. Some have split their time between school and home, while others are still being taught full time by “remote learning”. Neither of those options will be offered as of September, de Blasio said.
According to district superintendent Austin Beutner, all students in primary, middle, and high schools in Los Angeles County – more than 600,000 students – will be able to attend class full time. However, students and some teachers will be able to stay at home, he added.
“We expect the vast majority of students, teachers, and staff to be at school every day,” Beutner said, “but we recognise that we must provide the online opportunity for those who require it.”
The majority of teachers in the district’s union, United Teachers Los Angeles, has opposed entirely reopening schools until new health and safety policies are in effect.
New York and Los Angeles join New Jersey and several other states reopening schools as officials make progress tackling the spread of the coronavirus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of new infections nationwide dropped to a seven-day average of 22,877 on Sunday, the lowest since June and less than one-tenth of its post-holiday high of more than 250,000. (CDC).
According to the CDC, over half of the US population has received at least one injection of a vaccine. Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that 52% of New Yorkers have had at least one take.
According to CDC reports, the rate of vaccines has slowed to a seven-day average of about 1.7 million doses per day, down from a high of about 3.3 million in April.
BALLGAMES AND BROADWAY
Because of the decrease in diseases, government officials have offered a variety of benefits, such as free passes to baseball games and lotteries, such as New York State’s $5 million “Vax & Scratch” tournament.
De Blasio upped the ante on Monday, adding monthly prise draws for Broadway performances, hotel deals, and one-year gym memberships for people who get vaccinated at city-run sites by early July.
He also revealed that Stephen Colbert, the late-night comedian, will resume taping The Late Show With Stephen Colbert in front of a live, vaccinated New York crowd on June 14.
Given the decreasing number of new COVID-19 cases, de Blasio predicted that the CDC would loosen its existing rules requiring students to maintain a social distance of 1m before the start of the next school year.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced last week that the state’s indoor mask mandate would be removed beginning May 28 and that outdoor gathering limits would be lifted on June 4.
The Pfizer coronavirus vaccine was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration this month for children as young as 12 years old, and Moderna said it intended to obtain approval for its vaccine for children as well.