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'An incredibly traumatic 24 hours': New York City school closures set off new round of infighting

November 19, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

New York City's decision to close schools as coronavirus rates rise has set off a torrent of political infighting and a fresh round of public frustration over muddled -- and occasionally conflicting -- messages from city and state leaders.

(CNN)New York City's decision to close schools as coronavirus rates rise has set off a torrent of political infighting and a fresh round of public frustration over muddled -- and occasionally conflicting -- messages from city and state leaders.

The news was delivered to principals by the city's schools chancellor at around 2 p. m. on Wednesday after hours of uncertainty, and set off a scramble among parents juggling childcare needs and work responsibilities.

The announcement marked another frustrating chapter for many New Yorkers, who have been repeatedly caught in the tumult of a long-running feud between New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo -- one that flared up during the early days of the pandemic in March, when they talked past each other and delivered contradictory messages over school closures and stay-at-home orders.

De Blasio, during his own press conference, which had been delayed for five hours and did not begin until after 3 p. m. , said his office had "spent some time confirming it, and double checking" its numbers before sending out directives to the schools.

While New York City parents waited on the mayor, Cuomo lashed out at reporters when asked if he was considering whether to close the city's schools.

If the schools hit 3% in the city, I expect the mayor -- who has said 57 times if they hit 3% we will close them -- will close them," Cuomo said.

But less than five minutes later, at 2:04 p. m. , New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza emailed educators at the Department of Education to inform them all public school buildings would be closed, effective Thursday, and to begin the transition to strictly online learning.

As Cuomo left his press conference, a reporter informed him that -- contrary to what he'd just said -- de Blasio had just announced that school closures would begin the next day.

New York City calculates its rate based on tests that were given that day -- and test results are often delayed, the official said.

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