New York City's entire public school system closed its doors on Thursday, a shutdown automatically triggered by the city reaching a 3% test positivity rate - meaning that for every 1,000 New Yorkers tested, 30 were positive for Covid-19, APA reports citing BBC.
The city's students had been back to school for in-person learning for less than eight weeks. With 1.1 million students and 1,800 schools, New York boasts the largest public school system in the US.
"Today is a tough day, but this is a temporary situation," Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday, announcing the closure.
New York - once the national epicentre of the coronavirus crisis - began its phased reopening this summer, after a brutal battle with the virus in spring.
Now, with cases rising once again, the city appears headed back towards tightened restrictions. Both de Blasio and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have indicated that places like restaurants and gyms may soon face closure.
The New York City closures comes as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warns of "dire and growing” consequences for children as the pandemic continues on into another year.