NYC Councilman Joins Parents in Lawsuit to Reopen Public Schools

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Parents from Staten Island and their representative on the New York City Council filed for a preliminary injunction Friday in an effort to reopen the city's public schools closed this week by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Council Member Joseph Borelli said Saturday city leadership failed to provide adequate education through remote learning, making the city's decision to halt in-person learning "irresponsible and unacceptable."

"Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza have continued to fail our children time and time again," Borelli said in a press release Saturday announcing the lawsuit. "Even though they had 6 months to prepare for this year, they failed to do so and our children are forced to pay the price."

Schools in New York City moved to all-remote instruction indefinitely Thursday after the city hit Mayor de Blasio's 3 percent rolling positivity rate threshold a day earlier; there is no timeline set for an in-person return.

Parents were left in anxious limbo for a week as the city kept inching closer to the mayor's 3 percent positivity rate closure threshold. It eventually hit that Wednesday, according to city data. Now families for 300,000 students once again are scrambling to ensure their kids have the tools they need to learn fully remotely indefinitely -- and to ensure someone will be home to care for them full-time for the duration.

Mayor de Blasio says he's hopeful the closure will last just a few weeks. He expects to provide clarity on reopening benchmarks before Thanksgiving after consultation with the state. In the meantime, city officials say they understand the sudden -- and all-too-familiar -- inconvenience parents are facing yet again.

While the mayor sounded confident that schools would be closed for a matter of weeks, Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not seem as optimistic, warning "from here to January is very dangerous. A vaccine is on the way, but not in time to make a difference."

Many frustrated parents question why bars and restaurants are allowed to stay open when they're at higher risk of spreading COVID-19 and the city's own data has shown an in-school positivity rate under 0.2 percent — a number Cuomo says indicates schools are safer than New York City streets. 

To parents upset that restaurants and bars stay open as schools close, de Blasio had a stark message Thursday: It's just a matter of time before those shut, too.

New York City schools will move all-remote Thursday, the mayor tweeted Wednesday. The announcement came as Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrapped up a news briefing in which he said NYC could soon become an orange zone. NBC New York's Adam Hardning reports.
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