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The New York City Schools That Didn’t Close

On a cold, drizzly Monday morning in late March, Santiago Taveras left his home in Teaneck, New Jersey, before the sun rose. Traffic was light as Taveras merged onto the George Washington Bridge, crossed over the Hudson and Harlem Rivers into the Bronx, passed the shuttered Cardinal Hayes High School, and steered toward a big, boxy building in Mott Haven. Already, the city had begun to feel like the national epicenter of what people would come to call the pandemic. The previous week, the city had implemented shelter-in-place rules, shutting down offices, restaurants, and schools. Ninety-nine people had died in the city so far and another twelve thousand New Yorkers had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, fifteen per cent of them in the Bronx. Taveras’s wife, Alexandra, had fretted as he left the house that morning, wearing a dress shirt and slacks. What if he caught the virus? What if he carried it home?

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