For more than two months now, Mayor de Blasio has shown true leadership on one of the most vital aspects of life under the coronavirus: keeping schools open.
When he announced their temporary closure Nov. 18 because the city’s positive test rate for Covid-19 had topped 3 percent, we were skeptical they would be able to reopen before the end of the year. But for the youngest students, those in 3-K through fifth grade, they will, starting Monday. District 75 schools for special needs students will soon follow.
Credit for these achievements goes to de Blasio. When other big-city mayors decided not to reopen schools in the face of the coronavirus, going against the science that shows that’s not where it spreads and that kids overall are much better equipped to deal with it than adults, de Blasio insisted. The teachers union put up roadblocks to win concessions, so de Blasio made deals, including the unscientific 3 percent rule, which has nothing to do with what’s going on inside the schools, where the positivity rate is less than a tenth of that. And Gov. Cuomo was uncharacteristically laissez faire on the issue, letting de Blasio take all the heat — and the hard-won credit.
The mayor even made some lemonade of his corona lemons by saying he will reinstitute classes full-time where possible. That’s vital, considering how poor online learning actually is, especially for younger children.
Now the mayor must get middle and high school kids back in class as fast as he can. He also should give parents more chances to opt into hybrid learning, and full-time in-person classes where feasible. He said he had to stick by his 3 percent rule to close the schools; he should also stick by his initial determination that parents would get multiple chances to get their kids real time with real teachers.
This is also one more reason mayoral control of schools must be renewed by the state Legislature. Hearings on it begin this month.