Cuomo: All New York School Districts Can Reopen
After weeks of waiting, schools across New York State found out if students are heading back to the classroom this September.
On Friday during a conference call, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced all schools across New York State can reopen in September.
"By our infection rates, every school district can open. Which is just great news," Cuomo said.
Most districts across New York have already made their own reopening proposals and sent them to state officials for approval. Cuomo noted the New York State Board of Education has reviewed the submitted plans and will finalize an official plan in the near future.
However, if there is a spike in the infection rate between now and when schools reopen, schools can close down. Cuomo notes that schools will be closed down, on a regional basis, if the rate-of-transmission goes above a certain threshold.
"Every region is well below our COVID infection limit, therefore all school districts are authorized to open.," Cuomo tweeted during his conference call. "If the infection rate spikes, the guidance will change accordingly. School districts are required to submit plans to NYS for review."
Many of the submitted plans have schools operating on a hybrid model. With students in the classroom some days and being taught online on other days. Cuomo is asking all school districts to release their remote learning plans to the public if that district plans to have remote learning.
Cuomo is also telling all school districts to post plans on COVID-19 testing and contract tracing if a student or staff member ends up with the virus.
He says all schools must have a clear plan for COVID testing for students and educators. He adds schools must be transparent if anyone tests positive for coronavirus.
Cuomo also wants school districts to have three online sessions with parents, so parents can ask questions, by Aug. 21, and a separate online session with teachers.
The governor believes any reopening plan needs the support of teachers and parents for it to work this fall.
"I don't think you want to get into a legal battle with the teachers. That's the nature of the profession. Teachers have to feel safe. You're not going to order a teacher into the classroom," Cuomo said.
Back in July, Cuomo said there is a formula that will determine if schools will reopen. He added, reopening schools has to be like reopening the economy, based on facts, data and science. He said you can't reopen schools if the virus is out of control.
"You reopen if it is safe to reopen. How do you know its safe? You look at the data," Cuomo said in July. "If you have the virus under control, reopen. If you don't you can't reopen. We aren't going to put our children in a place where their health is endangered."
Schools will reopen if a region is in Phase 4 and the daily infection rate remains below 5 percent or lower during a 14-day average. Schools can still close if the infection rate increases. Schools will close if the regional infection rate is greater than 9 percent using a 7-day average after August 1.
"It's purely on the numbers, purely on the science," he said.