Based on the data, there’s no question in my mind that NYC should be leading the country in showing us how to get back to in-person schooling, safely. Cases are clearly now at 100-200 per day, hospitalizations in the low tens, deaths in single digits in a city of millions.
It’s ok to start cautious– elementary school only, maybe even not a full 5 days a week. This isn’t really supported by the data, but it’s good to build confidence in procedures and confidence in parents. Show that you can do contact tracing when a student or teacher gets sick– it will happen. Show that you have a plan in place to respond to some event. But NYC is as safe for children as anywhere will be for quite some time.
Real political leadership in New York starts now. Cuomo and de Blasio fighting, among other things, disastrously delayed the initial coronavirus response. Since then, NYC has succeeded at a level only seen outside of the US at flattening their curve to as near 0 as is possible. That is in spite of the disaster forecasting of, frankly, ignorant media commentary about how density would be the end of New York. We should look at NYC’s curve and recognize it as the global city it is– having faced uniquely horrific consequences of COVID-19 followed by success that is somewhat unique in the United States but common elsewhere. In the beginning, NYC unfortunately looked like Italy, but so to now, months into the crisis, NYC fortunately looks more like Italy.
It is time to say, “We are going to reduce other forms of opening that we have successfully done for a period of time now to give schools a chance to ramp up. We want all NYC schools students to be able to safely enter classrooms, so we’re going to reduce other forms of contact, ramp up schools in a deliberate manner, and then, having shown we can do this safely, re-open other parts of the city again. We’re going to show the country that no one responds to crisis like New Yorkers do.” It would work, and NYC would be better for it.