NYC Public Schools Close: What Parents Need to Know

The NYC DOE announced a long-term, city-wide closure through at least April 19.
The NYC DOE announced a long-term, city-wide closure through at least April 19.

Updated Sunday, March 15 at 6pm

Following mounting pressure, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday that the New York City Department of Education—the largest school district in the nation—would close until at least April 20 in an attempt to stem the spread of COVID-19 in the area. The late Sunday announcement may leave parents scrambling to find childcare, figure out what "distance learning" will look like, and what to do with kids at home all day every. 

To help everyone grapple with the new reality, we've put together more details about the NYC school closings, where kids can get free meals while schools are closed, how to get free internet access, as well as other updates about how Coronavirus is impacting NYC, including other closings of NYC institutions.

Continue to check back on our Cornavirus Guide for Parents as we update it daily with any news and Boredom Busters to keep the kids busy. We've got educational science experiments, fun exercise games, remote learning resources like FREE online coding classes for kids, and more. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio hands out fliers regarding COVID-19 preparedness in Union Square on Monday, March 9, 2020. Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

NYC DOE School Closure

"As of tomorrow, our public schools will be closed," de Blasio said. "There is no school tomorrow, and we will be suspending our pubic schools until after the spring vacation. We will make a first attempt to restart our schools on Monday, April 20."

In addition to announcing the closure of NYC schools, Mayor de Blasio also announced that schools would be open this week for grab-and-go breakfast and lunch for all students who need them. Plans are in the works to embark on a distance-learning program beginning Monday, March 23.

Teachers and principals will report to school buildings later this week for training in the new remote-learning platform, which will cater to grades K-12. The remote-learning platform can be previewed on the DOE's website now. The DOE is working to ensure all students who need technology to learn remotely have it in place before the plan takes effect, and asks all parents who don't have an NYC schools account to sign up for one now, as it will be integral to the distance-learning plan.

Low income families that don't have access to the internet may qualify to receive free internet from Comcast

In addition, several dozen "regional learning centers" will open on March 23 to cater to children who need to be cared for and taught in a school building.

The mayor was clear that though the goal is to re-open on April 20, it is not a certainty.

"We are dealing with a lot of unknowns and challenges, and it will be difficult to achieve that goal," de Blasio said. "There is a real possibility that by closing our schools now, we may not have the opportunity to re-open them in this full school year."

NYC Non-DOE Schools' Response to Coronavirus

Elite private schools Spence and Collegiate were among the first city schools to close their doors due to the spreading virus, doing so last week. Several other private schools have followed suit including:

Archdiocese of New York: 152 elementary schools closed through at least March 20
Avenues New York: closed until further notice
Beit Rabban Day School: closed until further notice
Birch Wathen Lenox: closed until further notice
Brooklyn Friends: closed through March 30
Calhoun: closed until further notice
Cathedral School of St. John the Divine: closed until March 30
Collegiate School: closed until further notice
Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School: closed until March 30
Dwight School: closed until March 30
Fieldston: closed until March 30
Fordham Prep High School: remote learning beginning March 17
Heschel School: closed until further notice
Horace Mann: closed until March 31
Kinneret Day School: closed until further notice
Luria Academy: closed until further notice
Marymount School: closed until March 30
Poly Prep: closed for the rest of the week
Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School: closed until further notice
Riverdale Country School: closed March 10; remote classes for middle and high school students on March 10-11
Resurrection Episcopal Day School: closed through March 13
SAR Academy and SAR High School: closed until further notice
St. Ann's School, Brooklyn: closed until at least March 27
St. Luke's School: closed until March 30
Spence School: closed until further notice
Success Academy Charter Schools: remote learning until further notice
The Brearley School: remote learning and re-opening March 30 following spring break
The Browning School: closed through March 30
The Nightingale-Bamford School: closed through March 30
The Shefa School: closed until March 27
Trevor Day School: closed until March 30
Quad Prep: closed until March 13
United Nations International Schools: closed through March 19
Winward School: closed until March 30
Xavier High School: remote learning beginning March 13

It's worth noting that many of the private schools' spring breaks start Monday, March 16, so some of the closures listed aren't a long-term as they appear.

RELATED: NJ School and University Closings Related to Coronavirus

Westchester County Schools' Response to Coronavirus

New Rochelle has been ground zero for the coronavirus outbreak in New York state. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday, March 10, the start of a two-week, 1-mile containment zone around the outbreak's hot spot, the Young Israel Synagogue. It cancels any large gatherings, closed schools and churches, and the National Guard was brought in to help distribute food and to clean. Private schools within the containment zone include Ursuline School, Hudson Country Montessori School, and Thornton Donovan School. While many of the Westchester County school districts enacted their own closures, a county-wide state of emergency will be declared on Monday, March 16, and require all schools to close for two weeks beginning on Wednesday, March 18.

RELATED: Long Island School Closings Due to Coronavirus

New York Colleges Closing Because of Coronavirus

Like many of the private schools in the city, college campuses are on the brink of spring break. Nonetheless, the following institutions are closing or switching to online-only classes:

Barnard College: remote learning through March 13
Columbia University: remote learning through March 13
CUNY and SUNY Programs: five-day recess followed by remote learning for the rest of the semester
Fordham University: remote learning indefinitely
Hofstra University: classes canceled through March 13
Iona College: classes canceled through March 13
John Jay College: classes canceled at least March 11
Manhattan College: remote learning beginning March 11
Nassau Community College: classes canceled through March 13
New York Institute of Technology: classes suspended; resume remote classes March 23
New York University: in-person classes suspended through March 27
Pace University: online classes through March 29
Sarah Lawrence College: classes canceled March 12-13 in advance of spring break; resume online for two weeks following break from March 23-April 3
School of Visual Arts: classes and events suspended through March 15
St. John's University: in-person classes suspended through March 27
Stony Brook University: remote learning following spring break
The Julliard School: all in-person classes, activities, and performances suspended March 16-March 29
The New School: remote and alternative learning beginning March 23
Yeshiva University: closure varies by campus

New Jersey colleges are also largely going virtual, including Princeton University and Rutgers. See the full list of NJ school closings

RELATED: Coronavirus Related Closings in Connecticut

Latest Coronavirus Stats in New York and NYC

The New York City Department of Health is maintaining a continuously updated coronavirus page on its website with information on prevention, the current number of cases in New York City (269 as of March 15), and more.

New York state has the largest number of coronavirus cases in the country. The state is tracking coronavirus infections in New York, which stood at 729, as of Sunday, March 15. Call the New York state coronavirus hotline at 1-888-364-3065 for information on the disease.

Getting Around NYC During the Outbreak

Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo raised more than a few eyebrows last week by encouraging people to avoid crowded public transportation.

"If you take the subway and you are able to wait for a less packed train, please do. If you have the option of walking or biking, please do. Buses can be crowded too, but less than subways, so please use these if you can," de Blasio said.

Despite their warnings, public transit is a fact of life for many New Yorkers, though the closure of schools and encouraging companies to let workers telecommute has helped with the crowds as many of us are suddenly finding a seat on the train!

So, arm yourself with some hand sanitizer (if you can find it!) and follow the advice of the CDC: Try to avoid touching high-contact areas and use your sleeve or a tissue to cover your hand if you're stuck standing and need to hold on. Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow (We're big fans of 'dabbing' when we cough!), and encourage your kids to avoid touching their face. When you reach your destination, practice good hand-washing hygiene, lathering up and scrubbing for 20 seconds, or roughly the time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice. Stay home if you or the kids are sick.

Editor's Note: This is a rapidly changing story and we are doing our best to update it. If you have any news to share from your school or district, please email us at

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