New York City families are stuck with that subpar substitute for the foreseeable future. On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he had no choice but to close the city’s public schools until further notice and return to online learning, because the percentage of tests coming back positive in the city had passed his red-line threshold of 3 percent. That is the lowest threshold of any public-school system in the country. It will probably not shock you that United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew thinks the city having the quickest trigger for closure in the entire country is just fine.
De Blasio set that threshold at the end of July, and he has all the authority he needs to change it. Guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that anything below 5 percent represents the “lowest level” of risk of significant transmissions in schools, and that anything below 20 percent still represents a “lower risk” of significant transmissions in schools. Governor Andrew Cuomo, last seen shouting at reporters and going on a book tour touting how he had beaten the pandemic, set the statewide threshold at 9 percent.