New York closes schools in virus-hit areas over second wave fears

New York will temporarily close schools in nine neighborhoods experiencing an uptick in coronavirus infections, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday, highlighting the difficulty of keeping children in classrooms during the pandemic.

The public and private schools are in areas of Brooklyn and Queens, where the rate of positive cases has been above the three percent threshold for more than seven days.

New York — America’s largest school district with 1.1 million students — is the only major city in the United States offering in-person classes this fall.

Many cities, such as Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Miami, opted instead for online classes.

The issue of reopening schools has become politicized ahead of the November elections, with Republican president Donald Trump insisting schools reopen, regardless of infection rates.

The closures take effect on Tuesday, bringing forward by a day the date proposed by New York City mayor Bill de Blasio.

Cuomo refused for now to close non-essential businesses in the nine areas, as also called for by the mayor.

Two of the neighborhoods recorded positive rates above eight percent over the past seven days, according to figures released Monday.

The areas include large Orthodox Jewish communities, who recently marked the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur holidays.

Across New York state, the rate of positive cases remains low at 1.22 percent. (AFP)

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