Nov. 18 (UPI) — New York City Public Schools, the nation’s largest school district, will shut down, officials announced Wednesday, after the city reached a 3% COVID-19 testing positivity rate.
The decision comes as coronavirus cases in the United States surged to record highs in recent weeks, with the country reporting 162,000 new cases and 1,700 deaths for Tuesday.
“As of November 19, 2020, all school buildings are closed until further notice, and all students are learning remotely five days a week,” the district announced.
The schools will remain closed for at least two weeks.
The district’s policy was to shutter schools if the New York City’s coronavirus testing positivity rate equals or exceeds 3% using a seven-day rolling average. The city has been teetering on the edge of that threshold for days.
Though schools will be closed, all families can continue to pick up three free meals per person between 9 a.m. and noon at any school building, the school district said. Additionally, the district said it will continue its free childcare program for children between age 3 and eighth grade with priority given to the children of essential workers.
New York City first shuttered its schools in March at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Shortly after, the city became the world’s epicenter of the disease, reaching a peak of 815 confirmed and probable deaths in a single day on April 7.
The city recorded six deaths, 1,113 cases and 54 hospitalizations Sunday, the most recent day on the city’s COVID-19 tracking dashboard.