New York Schools Across the State Have Been Authorized to Reopen, Gov. Andrew Cuomo Says

"You look at our infection rate, we probably are in the best situation in the country right now," Andrew Cuomo said

Gov. Andrew Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has given all school districts statewide, including New York City public schools, the permission to reopen this fall.

Cuomo announced on Friday that due to the low infection rate throughout the state, all schools have been authorized to reopen — although before opening their doors for in-person learning, schools must submit plans on how to keep students and staff safe, which will have to be approved by the New York State Department of Health.

“You look at our infection rate, we probably are in the best situation in the country right now,” Cuomo told reporters on a call Friday according to CBS New York. He went on to note that the state’s infection rate as of Friday was just 1 percent.

“If anybody can open schools, we can open schools. And that’s true for every region in the state, period,” he added.

Cuomo went on to share that 127 out of the 749 school districts have yet to submit safety plans and that an additional 50 have been deemed insufficient, NBC New York reported. The Health Department has not officially approved any of the plans.

A view of high school students sitting at desks in a classroom with protective masks
High school students wearing PPE in class. Getty

Acknowledging the fact that many parents have had questions or expressed concern about reopening in the fall, Cuomo stressed the importance of keeping them updated and involved in safety planning.

Cuomo has urged that testing procedures and plans for contract tracing be included on school websites and has also urged schools to hold three Q&A sessions by August 21st, according to ABC New York. Additionally, he said that there needs to be at least one session where teachers will be able to ask questions of their school districts.

Besides following social distancing guidelines, students should also be required to wear face masks, which can be provided by the school if necessary.

Cuomo has also made it clear that schools will close if the infection level climbs to 9 percent, and that if a region in the state has to shut down schools, the order will apply to both public and private institutions.

Last month, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio also unveiled the city’s proposed plan, which includes a mix of in-person and remote learning and smaller class sizes. All students are required to wear PPE.

Parents are also being given the option to forego in-person learning entirely. They have until Friday to notify the Department of Education of their decision — although parents will still be able to switch to remote learning “at any point,” De Blasio said during a Friday press conference.

“Most parents by far want their kids back in school,” he added, noting that he hoped their proposed “Blended Learning” plan will only be in effect for “part of our school year.”

School districts around the nation are taking a variety of approaches to reopening. The options include going fully online, bringing in students on a staggered schedule, providing a combination of remote and in-person classes and offering totally in-person classes.

President Donald Trump is a staunch proponent of reopening schools, and has even threatened to withhold funding should schools opt not to resume in-person learning.

As of Friday afternoon, the U.S. has seen more than 4.8 million coronavirus cases and 159,588 deaths, according to a New York Times database. In New York, a former epicenter of the virus, there have been at least 423,637 cases and 32,329 deaths — with just 5 new deaths being reported on Friday.

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