We’ve been fighting COVID-19 in America for
nearly a year now, and we still do not fully
appreciate just how fluid the situation is.
Our standards and policies have shifted
around numerous times as we dealt with infections
and figured out what worked and what didn’t work
when it comes to battling infections. In many cases,
we didn’t figure out the right approach to one aspect
of COVID-19 until it was too late.
The de Blasio Administration’s school reopening
plan, developed in the summer, used the best information
available at the time to develop a “blended
model” for bringing students back to school, accompanied
with criteria to ensure the safe and orderly
closure of school buildings in the event the city
crossed 3 percent COVID-19 positivity over a sevenday
But things changed rapidly in two months thanks
to the development of rapid testing, and an improved
ability to pinpoint block-by-block where COVID-19
cases have spiked.
Testing of in-person classes also revealed low infection
rates and spread in elementary schools.
That trend bucked fears that the virus would
spread more easily among children; it turns out
that’s not necessarily the case, at this point.
After the city crossed the 3 percent threshold
on Nov. 18, Mayor Bill de Blasio moved to close the
schools. But that led to protestations from parents
who suggested that the schools were safer than first
predicted, and that not every New York City neighborhood
had spikes in cases that would have otherwise
necessitated a closure.
On Sunday, the mayor changed the plan — clearing
the way for public elementary schools to reopen
as of Dec. 7, but with stricter guidelines for testing.
It was the right call by the mayor, just as it was to
initially close school buildings back on Nov. 18. And
that’s only because our knowledge of COVID-19 and
our ability to track it has dramatically changed in
just three months.
Let’s remember where we are — in the middle
of a pandemic, fighting a virus we’re still learning
about. Day by day, week by week, our knowledge will
change — and when it does, so will public policy.
It’s not because our experts are flawed or stupid,
or overhyping the threat. It’s because they’re still
trying to figure it out — and it takes time and research
to do so.
Have faith, be patient and follow their advice.
HOW TO REACH US
TIMESLEDGER | QNS.12 COM | DEC. 4-DEC. 10, 2020
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Mayor de Blasio made the right call to change his plan for public schools.
Photo by Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Offi ce