America’s largest school district has returned to all-remote learning and the physical reopening of New York City Public Schools are presently undecided. As you may recall, on March 15, 2020 New York City closed all of its public and private school buildings in order to protect our 1.1 million students, staff members, families, and fellow New Yorkers from the spread of COVID-19. Fast forward six months later to September 16th, 2020, New York City Schools welcomed student’s physical return under a blended learning model that included the option of in-school learning part of the week and virtual learning the portion. On Thursday, November 19, 2020 Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that new social distancing restrictions are likely coming.
Although the state employed social distancing strategies, mandated the use of face masks, upgraded, or replaced existing ventilation systems in classrooms; employed a sufficient number of nurses to staff school buildings, and much more; it wasn’t enough. On Wednesday, November 18, 2020 Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city’s seven-day average hit 3% triggering the switch to all-remote learning. Parents, guardians, and school leaders were put on notice as the coronavirus infection rate inched closer to the 3% threshold established in the summer by the teacher’s union in order to approve the physical reopening of schools.
According to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s if the infection rate exceeds 3% for 10 consecutive days then he would impose orange zone restrictions. What triggers an orange zone designation? We are currently at 2.5% right now, and while the exact pace of increase is impossible to predict, Mayor de Blasio expects us to reach 3% within the next 2-3 weeks, if not sooner. Entering the orange zone would trigger an immediate shutdown of all indoor dining, which is currently allowed at 25% capacity in the five boroughs. If seven-day state-wide testing averages exceed 3% for more than 10 days, the orange zone law will suspend indoor dining, close down gyms, and salons. Outdoor dining would still be legal, with a four-person maximum per table – though that too can be eliminated if the positivity rate reaches 4%, the threshold of a red zone designation. Certain businesses will continue to remain open regardless of color zones they include grocery stores, bodegas, farmer’s markets, pharmacies, liquor stores, and wine shops.
New restrictions began last Wednesday, November 25th for parts of New York City as COVID-19 patients overwhelm hospitals, prompting our Governor to reopen an emergency field hospital. Yellow and orange restrictions came to businesses midweek in a handful of counties in New York City and Long Island. Parts of Staten Island and Syracuse moved into orange zones with indoor dining closing in those areas, while parts of Upper Manhattan, Riverhead, Hampton Bays, Great Neck, and Massapequa Park moved to yellow.
The United States has had over 250,000 Coronavirus related deaths, across the country those numbers are climbing. Public Health Officials and The Law Offices of Marjory Cajoux continue to stress the importance of following COVID-19 guidelines. We are urging everyone to please take social distancing and COVID-19 best practices seriously!
We encourage all to stay safe during this critical time by doing the following:
- If you are sick – STAY HOME. Call your healthcare provider before going to a medical care center or hospital.
- Continue to social distance by staying six feet away from others, especially if you are over the age of 65 or have a pre-existing condition and are at higher risk for contracting a serious illness like COVID-19.
- Continue to wear cloth face coverings in public especially when using UBER, LYFT, mass transit, dining at restaurants, going to supermarkets, post office, and anyplace social distancing might be challenging. Face covering is most essential when social distancing is difficult!
- Wash your hands at least 20 seconds in warm water as frequently as possible, especially after being in public places, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Use hand sanitizer at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not readily available.
- Follow guidelines for your area when it comes to large gatherings. Avoid crowds and mass gatherings.
- Pay attention when walking in any city which can often be congested with people. Although there might be fewer drivers, there will be more pedestrians particularly as we draw closer to the end of the year. Keep smartphone use to a minimum and do not block out noise in both ears with headphones.
- Be sure to check for closures or restrictions prior to visiting recreational facilities. If open, consider locations where it will be possible to maintain 6 feet of space between yourself and other people who are not from your household.