More COVID-19 tests need to be done to ensure a safe environment for students and staff when New York City's public schools reopen from the current closure, said Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday.
"The central point is going to be testing. We're going to put much more reliance on people getting tested a lot more frequently," said the mayor while appearing live on 1010 WINS, a radio station licensed to New York City. "This is going to require all of us to really take responsibility for getting kids tested regularly. That's going to be one of the keys to being able to come back quickly."
"We want to reopen as quickly as possible, but with some new standards. We need tougher standards. We're going to reset the equation. We're going to come back. We'll know in the next few days exactly what those standards are," he added.
The mayor announced on Wednesday that all the public schools in the city would be closed starting Thursday, as the COVID-19 infection rate on 7-day average topped 3 percent, a threshold to a second wave of the pandemic as well as a precondition to shut down all the public schools. He didn't specify the period of the school closure.
New York City's public school system began its new semester in September in a hybrid pattern, but with more than half of the students opting to stay at home learning online. Accommodating more than 1.1 million students, the system is the largest of its kind in the United States.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the coronavirus deaths added up to 24,149 and the confirmed cases to 287,022 in New York City, according to The City, a project that tracks the spread of confirmed COVID-19 infections and fatalities in New York City, based on information provided by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the governor's office, The COVID Tracking Project and the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.