• De Blasio said it will be up to principals to figure out how many classes can be conducted outdoors
  • The Council of School Supervisors had recommended classes be conducted remotely until adequate coronavirus safety precautions have been implemented
  • New York City has recorded more than 230,300 coronavirus cases and 19,000 deaths

New York Mayor Bill De Blasio on Monday said elementary and secondary school principals will be allowed to hold classes outside to minimize concerns over ventilation in city schools amid the coronavirus pandemic, expanding a previous plan for bringing students back to classrooms.

New York schools are scheduled to open Sept. 10. Teachers had threatened to sue the system, citing inadequate coronavirus safety precautions.

“Starting today, we empower our principals to determine the maximum amount they can do outdoors,” de Blasio said. “It’s up to them to figure out how to use a schoolyard and anything on school property that’s outdoors.”

The Council of School Supervisors had recommended the first few weeks of school be conducted remotely, saying the delay would give the system more time to make sure there were enough nurses as well as enough time to complete ventilation system repairs and to obtain adequate cleaning supplies.

De Blasio said principals should request outdoor space for classes by Friday. School adjacent streets and nearby parks were cited as possible venues along with schoolyards, with 27 neighborhoods getting priority because of coronavirus case levels.

De Blasio acknowledged weather might interfere with outdoor classes but the option still presents a good alternative.

“Our students need time to run and play, explore and create in a safe, socially distanced way. Outdoor Learning provides more of that, more often, and we are grateful to our sister agencies for working together to make this possible,” Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza said in a press release announcing the option.

New York City has reported at least 230,345 confirmed cases of coronavirus and COVID-19 deaths have topped 19,000, statistics show.