De Blasio refuses to shut down NYC public schools over coronavirus despite union pressure

Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio continues to resist shutting down public schools, despite increasing pressure to do so amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Fox News reports New York Mayor Bill de Blasio doubled down Friday on his decision not to shut down public schools, despite increasing pressure to do so from teacher unions and other Democratic politicians.

“We shut down the school system, we might not see it for the rest of the school year. We might not see the beginning of the new school year. And that weighs heavily on me,” the mayor said, according to The New York Times.

Public schools in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Atlanta and other cities have closed down due to the coronavirus outbreak. There have been statewide closures in some states, including Virginia, Ohio and Washington state.

New York is temporarily closing schools where students or teachers test positive for the virus, but the state has so far held off on broader closures.

In the Big Apple, shutting down schools would be one of the most consequential shutdowns in the country, and some have expressed concerns about possible ripple effects. Workers in crucial areas such as transportion and medical care, for instance, may have to take time off to care for children. Many low-income families also rely on schools for meals, medical help and even laundry services.

But teacher unions have increased pressure on de Blasio, a Democrat, to shutter schools, saying it is an important move to stop the spread of a deadly virus that has turned into a pandemic.

“We must find ways to keep our children safe and to see that they are fed. We must do all we can to help ensure that our students can continue to learn,” United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement. “But we have reached the point where continuing to keep our classrooms open poses a greater lasting threat than the disruption that will result from school closings.”

NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who supports the closures, tweeted: “Teaching and learning cannot take place under these circumstances.”