UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — New York City should explore utilizing storefronts and schools that have gone vacant during the coronavirus pandemic as emergency child care centers when public schools reopen in the fall, an Upper East Side City Councilman proposed this week.
Using vacant retail space and buildings of independent schools that have closed or won't offer in-person learning next year will help public school parents maintain their full-time jobs when schools reopen in the fall, City Councilmember Ben Kallos wrote in a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio and School Chancellor Richard Carranza. The New York Daily News first reported on Kallos' proposal.
New York City public schools were shut down in March to stem the spread of the coronavirus leading up to the peak of New York's outbreak of the deadly disease. City and state officials announced plans and safety guidelines to reopen school buildings in recent weeks.
The city's plan will have schools bring in half or a third of their students in classrooms at a time— depending on how much space is available in the school building — and have kids who are at home each day continue with remote learning, officials said.
Mandatory masks for children and staff, nightly deep cleanings, hand washing stations and using outdoor or large spaces like cafeterias, gyms and auditoriums for more social distancing are also part of the plan.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that school districts will need to maintain a daily infection rate below 5 percent to be cleared for in-person learning.