As the holiday season quickly approaches, families across the nation have started to brace themselves for what looks to be an inevitable resurgence of the Coronavirus. Cases have been climbing all across the United States and don’t look to be slowing down any time soon. For months, New York managed to keep the virus at bay while numbers in other parts of the country rose, but in recent weeks the virus has begun to reappear on our city streets despite the most cautious of measures being taken.
On Wednesday afternoon New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made the difficult decision to close public schools as the COVID-19 test positivity rate topped 3%, the threshold for whether or not schools can remain open. With the public schools closing their doors, the spotlight has shifted to the city’s private schools as we await their next move.
According to Grace Head of School Mr. Davison, right now “There’s nothing causing us to close.” He continued to explain that “We do not follow the city. We’re a regent’s chartered institution so we have to listen to the Governor. So when Cuomo says he’s going to leave the decision to the local jurisdiction, we are the local jurisdiction.”
With cases going up around the greater New York area, Davison doesn’t seem concerned about Grace. With a clean testing record, he sees no reason for the school to shift to remote learning: “Our rate right now is 0. We haven’t had a single student or staff member turn positive which is pretty good. Other schools have had people.” Though this is a very impressive data point, there may come a time when Governor Cuomo “could move [New York City] to Phase 3, and then we would have to close.” Davison continued, saying “There is some talk that the city might get moved into a closing in which case we’ll close if the state is doing it.”
As far as teachers go, Mr. Davison acknowledges that they “are concerned,” noting that “some have to go remote because the numbers around are going up and their doctors have said you should not be out there.” Though more teachers may be out of the building, Davison assured that “we’re ready with extra support teachers for that week after Thanksgiving for teachers that may go remote.”
The ultimate goal for Mr. Davison is “to make it to December 17th,” the last day of school before Winter Break. Following those two weeks off, students and faculty will be fully remote for the first two weeks back in January during which hybrid returnees will need to be re-tested prior to returning to the building. Once those two weeks pass, the school plans to move forward with its hybrid model.
While this ever-changing pandemic has caused nothing but uncertainty for so many, Davison acknowledged that Grace will “stick with our plan,” understanding that “Whatever live time we can get is better than the remote time.”