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NYC finds few positive cases as schools open

NYC finds few positive cases as schools open
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The first targeted coronavirus testing in New York City schools since they reopened three weeks ago found low positivity rates, despite fears the virus would spread rapidly in classrooms.

Approximately 15,000 students and staffers have been tested, and results are in for 10,676. Only five students and 13 staff members have tested positive, according to The New York Times.

Mobile testing sites stationed near Queens and Brooklyn schools in at-risk neighborhoods have only returned four positive results out of more than 3,300 tests,  the newspaper noted.

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The spikes in the two boroughs, many of them in ultra-Orthodox communities, have sparked new restrictions and fears of a second wave in the city, which was a national epicenter in early spring.

New York was the first major city to reopen public schools for in-person classes last month. About half of its students are in a program in which they only attend in-person classes some of the week, allowing schools to physically separate students.

“That data is encouraging,” Paula White, executive director of Educators for Excellence, a teachers group, told the Times. “It reinforces what we have heard about schools not being super spreaders.”

The targeted program involves testing between 10 percent and 20 percent of students and staff once a month. Some critics have said that while the low positivity rate is encouraging, this testing approach could mean larger outbreaks could go undetected.

“It’s great that New York City is doing some level of random testing,” Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told the Times. “It’s not at the level that would be ideal.”

Teachers union president Michael Mulgrew said New York officials are exploring the possibility of increasing testing to three times a month, which he said would be “much more valuable” in detecting any outbreaks.