Murrow high school students coronavirus
Students lined up outside Edward R. Murrow High School in Midwood, Brooklyn, to have their temperatures taken. Mark Abramson for The New York Times

The New York Times

New York City has more students in classrooms — about 300,000— than virtually any city in the country. Transmission of the virus in schools has been strikingly low. And one of the city’s top health officials has declared that the public schools are among the safest public places around.

Yet for all those hopeful signs, Mayor Bill de Blasio is on the brink of shutting down all classrooms across the school system, by far the nation’s largest, as New York confronts a second wave of the virus after months when the city’s success at curbing the outbreak made it the envy of the country. The closure could happen by Thanksgiving, if not sooner.

The move — which is now regarded by some City Hall officials as a question of when, not if — would be perhaps the most significant setback yet for the city’s recovery since the bleak days of spring, when it was a global center of the pandemic and all the schools were shuttered.

New York’s agonizing decision reflects a divisive debate raging in almost every country over the importance of reopening schools while the outbreak grinds on. That fight has sometimes seen parents, teachers, politicians and epidemiologists stake out conflicting positions and has raised difficult questions about the health threats of returning schoolchildren to classrooms — and the educational and economic risks of keeping them out. Continue reading

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