What to Know
- NYC's Board of Health approved plan to reopen 3,000 child care centers citywide as early as next week
- Safetyguards would apply, including social distancing, caps on kids per room, mask-wearing and limited toy sharing, among other measures
- More parents are returning to work as NYC continues its reopening process and Mayor de Blasio is concerned some may have to choose between their jobs and their kids; the fate of schools is still up in the air
New York City's Board of Health approved a plan Tuesday to reopen 3,000 child care centers citywide starting July 13, giving parents much-needed relief for the first time in four months.
Strict state safety requirements will apply, including a 15-child cap per room, social distancing, mask mandates for staff and kids, daily health screenings and frequent cleanings and disinfection, among other COVID precautions. Programs would be inspected for compliance.
The city has offered child care throughout the pandemic, but it's primarily been limited to children of essential workers. As the five boroughs progress through the reopening stages, now just a day into Phase III, parents are growing increasingly desperate. Some have to choose between their jobs and their kids.
"This is something that's been worked on for weeks, getting the centers ready and what they need," de Blasio said Tuesday. "Everything is safety first. The restart is moving along now. A lot of people are looking forward to going back to work. Folks need to get back to work. The only way they can is with child care."
Meanwhile, the question of schools in the fall remains very much in limbo. Gov. Andrew Cuomo refuses to commit to that at this point. He said Monday the state was working to finalize school guidance. In the meantime, he's asked New York's 700 school districts to submit their reopening plans for his office's approval.
De Blasio has repeatedly said New York City schools will open in some fashion in the fall despite Cuomo's insistence that's not set in stone. He is set to announce on Wednesday details of some sort of hybrid plan that would combine in-class learning with remote lessons.
"We're over two months away. A lot can happen," the mayor said Tuesday. "We're going to be ready for any eventuality. The bottom line is to listen to the voices of parents."
An overwhelming majority of New York City parents want to send their children back to the five boroughs' public schools in September, but a surprising number of families aren't so eager to get back to in-person learning, according to a survey de Blasio discussed at one of his daily briefings last week.
The city's Department of Education surveyed more than 400,000 parents on back-to-school plans and needs; it found roughly 75 percent wanted to send their kids back to school in September, which leaves a full 25 percent still unsure.
The complete survey results weren't immediately available; it was conducted as part of the city's efforts to gage parent mindset as it works to develop multiple contingency plans and strategies to get kids safely back to class this fall.
The city has not revealed any specific school safety or scheduling plans as of yet, but de Blasio said safety measures will include social distancing, mandatory face coverings, deep cleaning and hand sanitizing stations, among others.
He also warned parents to expect "staggering" as far as student schedules are concerned, meaning kids may not all go back to school at the same time or may only return for in-person learning on dedicated days. That's because spacing for social distancing is an issue in the nation's largest school system.
De Blasio said parents would be notified about their children's schedules well ahead of school starting so they can plan accordingly.
Nationally, President Trump has been pushing for a return to schools come the fall, saying Tuesday that his administration would put "pressure on our governors and everyone else to open the schools."