New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday that the state’s schools and colleges will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year and will continue distance learning to curb the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Cuomo said there’s not enough time to develop a reopening plan that would keep students and educators safe for schools to reopen this academic year. He said any plan to reopen schools would have to follow social distancing protocols where people wear masks and no gatherings are held, and the transportation system would require fewer students.
He said a decision on summer school will be announced at the end this month.
In the meantime, he said he has asked school districts to develop a reopening plan.
“The plan has to have protocols in place that incorporate everything that we are now doing in society and everything that we learned,” he said.
Any plans that reimagine how New York schools operate must consider such things as how and when extracurricular activities could reopen, how to provide housing and meals on college campuses and what steps would be taken to ensure students’ mental health, the governor said.
He said there are no plans to close schools this fall because it’s a long time away. In order for summer school to occur, Cuomo said there would need to be “a drop or stabilization of the infection rate for a period of time.”
New hospitalizations from Covid-19 has remained above 900, a figure that Cuomo said is still too high. He said he plans to discuss with the state’s hospitals how to better target new cases to determine the origin and control the spread.
An additional 289 people died from the coronavirus since Thursday, the first time that figure has dipped below 300 in nearly a week, he said.
Colleges and universities moved to remote learning starting March 19 and campuses were closed except for those in need of housing, Cuomo said.
New York state has 700 public school districts with 4,800 schools and 2.59 million students. There are also 1,800 private schools and over 100 private colleges that have thousands of students.
Cuomo said by definition, these schools have high density and transportation issues, and there’s a greater risk of contagion unless protective measures are fully in place.
“The decisions on the education system are obviously critically important. We must protect our children, every parent, every citizen feels that, we must protect our students, we must protect our educators,” Cuomo said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on April 11 that the city’s schools would remain closed through June, although Cuomo said at the time that it would ultimately be his decision whether to close the state’s schools and that announcement was de Blasio’s “opinion.”
Before Cuomo’s announcement, de Blasio said the governor “understands that I fundamentally believe it is not safe to bring back New York City public schools for this academic year, period.”