Two-case rule out, four-case rule in

Mayor de Blasio announced Thursday morning that he would be expanding the rule that forces a school building closure from two unlinked cases to four.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday morning that the city’s public schools will be replacing the two-case rule for school building closures with a four-case rule.

On Monday, Mayor de Blasio announced that he would be replacing the policy that requires a public school building to close for at least 10 days after two unlinked Covid cases are detected.

The new plan has multiple parts, the mayor said. One confirmed case of Covid means a classroom will go remote for 10 days before being able to come back. 

Two or three cases in a week will mean an increase in testing but not a closure. Four or more cases that are in different classrooms will require a school building closure.

“This will allow us to have more consistency in school attendance and schedules and to keep strong health and safety standards,” de Blasio said at his Thursday press event.

The mayor suggested that he had come to an agreement with the United Federation of Teachers on the issue, which had caused tensions between the city and union leadership when he first announced that would be replacing the two-case rule earlier this week. 

Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter added that the new closure rules will go into effect on Monday. More than 65,000 Department of Education employees have now been vaccinated across the city, according to the mayor.

Asked whether a numerical threshold still makes sense as opposed to a system that relies on individual investigations into positive cases, Jay Varma, the mayor’s senior health adviser, said that a concrete threshold is the best policy for the city’s school system given its size.

“The simple reality is that in an ideal world every situation could be managed on a case by case basis and we would be able to accumulate all of the information and be able to make a decision rapidly with all of that. But the reality is that we are dealing with the most diverse and most complex school system in the country,” Varma said.

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