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New York City public schools will close until April 20 amid COVID-19 outbreak

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Posted at 6:34 PM, Mar 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-15 18:34:12-04

New York City public schools will close Monday and will not reopen until, at the earliest, April 20, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday.

Remote learning will begin on March 23, he said. The announcement came after de Blasio said he intended to keep schools open, listing schools as one of three things he wants to "preserve at all costs." De Blasio also included mass transit and the health care system.

More than 1.1 million children at nearly 1,900 public schools will be impacted.

New York City first needs to have "a plan in place in the next 24 hours for childcare for essential workers and a plan to make sure kids will continue to get the meals they need," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "This action is necessary to reduce density and mitigate the spread of #COVID19," he tweeted.

De Blasio has faced calls to shutter schools as health officials battle COVID-19. Officials in nearby Nassau and Suffolk counties have announced plans to close schools. Schools across the region have shuttered since the outbreak began.

"We want our schools to remain open," de Blasio previously said. "We intend for our schools to remain open."

In New York City, 900,000 meals a day are served up at schools, and the Education Department is ready to feed students if there are closures, a spokesperson previously said.

"We know that for many families, school is the only place to get meals for the day and that need continues even if a school closes," the spokesperson said. "If a school is closed for 24 hours we're prepared to serve grab-and-go breakfast and lunch for any student who wants it."

More than 300,000 have petitioned for city public schools to close and the Queens borough president asked parents to keep their kids home. The United Federation of Teachers urged parents to demand de Blasio suspend classes.

#CLOSENYCPUBLICSCHOOLS was also trending on Twitter Friday, March 13.

School attendance dropped to 68 percent on Friday.

On Sunday, Cuomo said closing school districts was "not that simple" because of the impact it has on such essential workers as health care employees and law enforcement.

Schools aren't the only thing shutting down in the tri-state area.

Gatherings of 500 or more people have been banned statewide, affectingly forcing Broadway to go dark. In the world of sports, the NBA on Wednesday became the first of multiple leagues to suspend or postpone seasons due to the outbreak.

This story was originally published by Aliza Chasan on WPIX in New York.