"Do Mayor de Blasio and his schools chancellor, Richard Carranza, really believe that children in nonpublic schools deserve inferior measures to protect their health? Apparently," Deegan stated.
On Nov. 18, de Blasio announced that the city's public schools would "temporarily" suspend in-person classes. He subsequently announced Nov. 29 that he would allow elementary school and pre-K students to return to in-person learning Dec. 7, with special education students returning Dec. 10.
The initial decision to suspend in-person learning in public schools was made after one set of data found that the city's coronavirus test positivity rate was 3%. Metrics shared by Cuomo at a press conference following the decision to close, however, stated that the city's positivity rate was 2.5%, not yet at the anticipated threshold for school closure. De Blasio also announced Nov. 29 that the 3% threshold would no longer be used.
de Blasio has faced criticism for his treatment of houses of worship during the coronavirus pandemic, threatening mass arrests or even permanent closure of churches and synagogues that did not comply with public orders.
De Blasio said in June that ongoing protests in the city merit exceptions to coronavirus regulations, while religious services do not, drawing criticism from the New York archdiocese.
The Supreme Court ruled in late November that New York state restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic are a violation of the First Amendment's protection of free religious exercise.
The state's restrictions forbade the attendance of more than 10 people at religious services in state designated "red zones, and 25 people in "orange zones."
In a statement Nov. 26, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn said he is "gratified by the decision of the Justices of the United States Supreme Court, who have recognized the clear First Amendment violation and urgent need for relief in this case."
The court's ruling is temporary, as lawsuits filed by the Diocese of Brooklyn and by Orthodox Jewish synagogues in New York will continue, though the Supreme Court's Nov. 26 decision is likely to weigh heavily in the outcome of those cases.
While cases of coronavirus have continued to spike throughout the country, schools have largely not been the sources of these infections.
Last month, Cuomo was part of a bipartisan group of governors from the northeast who signed a statement calling in-person learning the "best possible scenario" for children.
(Story continues below)
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