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De Blasio outlines efforts aimed at safely opening NYC schools amid pandemic

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday debuted a new PSA the city released to show what is being done in preparation of schools reopening in NYC. Credit: NYC Mayor's Office

The New York City school year is just weeks away but officials said Monday they are ready, with millions of face masks and hand sanitizers as well as more than 7,000 maintenance staff prepped to disinfect campuses daily.

As part of his pitch to quell anxiety among families and teachers about returning to city schools amid the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio played a short video at his daily news conference to detail measures taken to assure student safety.

“Whatever our schools need they will have,” de Blasio said. “Whatever our educators need, whatever staff needs, whatever kids need, we are going to make sure it is there.”

Among the safety measures outlined in the video: four million face masks, more than 3.5 million bottles of hand sanitizer, and 3,750 electrostatic sprayers to disinfect surfaces. In addition, some 210,000 signs will be posted in schools citywide to remind students about safe social distancing and practicing good hygiene.

Rooms without adequate ventilation will not be used in the schools, officials noted in the video.

The personal protective equipment will be provided free of charge to schools, and principals will be able to access a special hotline to order items when needed, the mayor said.

“This is about moving past fear to resiliency,” de Blasio said

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Due to the fluid nature of the pandemic confronting a school system catering to more than one million students, “some of this will be determined in the actual doing of it, as with the rest of life,” he said.

City schools are set to reopen on or about Sept. 10 and teachers with medical concerns will be able to teach remotely, said Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza. Details on the logistics are being worked out in cooperation with the teachers’ union, Carranza said. DeBlasio added that school officials will make unannounced inspections to check if PPE supplies are in place.

In another issue stemming from the pandemic, de Blasio said Monday that fears of a disease cluster in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn appear to be unfounded.

After a weekend of activity in the neighborhood by disease specialists, no cluster was found, the mayor said. Instead, he added, a few households had problems that are being addressed.

Free COVID-19 testing will continue this week in Sunset Park with facilities set up at the Brooklyn Army Terminal and free bus service provided to residents, de Blasio said.

In terms of reopening, de Blasio reiterated that bowling alleys in the city could reopen Monday at 50% capacity, while museums and other cultural facilities will open their doors Aug. 24 at 25% capacity.        

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