As if the coronavirus pandemic hasn't already taken so much of people's livelihoods, it is taking away snow days from New York City students too.
As the biggest snowstorm in years approached the five boroughs Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced New York City school buildings would be closed to in-person learning on Thursday. Remote learning will continue for all students.
"I know we all grew up with the excitement of snow days, but this year is different," de Blasio tweeted. "Tomorrow will be a FULL REMOTE learning day for our students."
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said students are still expected to log on and engage with their work from home as they do on remote learning days.
Unlike kindergartners and elementary school students who were allowed to go back to in-person learning earlier this month after the city shuttered school buildings for the second time, middle and high school students have only been doing remote learning. There's still no timeline on when they can return to class, though the mayor has said he hopes middle schoolers get back in late January.
De Blasio hopes to keep schools open even if the city has to revert to a PAUSE-like shutdown for a period of time to combat increasing viral rates, which he has said is necessary. It's the governor's decision, though. Schools have maintained low transmission rates despite increases elsewhere across the city.
"Right now, we're seeing extraordinary success in keeping our schools safe. I want to keep them open. If we do have a PAUSE, that will be the decision the state makes,” de Blasio said. “But the schools -- with all the layer upon layer of health and safety measures, with this gold standard of health protections that we put in place -- schools can effectively keep serving kids and kids need it.”
The head of the city's largest teacher's union, though, has doubts about whether schools should stay open if the city shuts down. Michael Mulgrew, of the United Federation of Teachers, argued that if the situation worsens to the point that the city needs to close, it would be irresponsible to leave schools open.
"The UFT fought to re-open schools – but only with the equipment, procedures, and testing that made them safe," Mulgrew said in a statement. "If the coronavirus infection rate rises to the point that a citywide 'shelter in place' is necessary, keeping school buildings open would be irresponsible."