ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Cuomo announced Friday that New York state schools could reopen next month.
“By our infection rate, all school districts can open everywhere in the state every region is below the threshold that has been established,” Cuomo said. “If you look at our infection rate, we’re in the best situation in the country. If anyone can open schools, we can.”
Each district submitted a reopening proposal last week to the New York State Department of Education pending approval to move forward. Friday, those districts received that approval.
“On July 31, local school districts will submit their plan on how they will reopen, what their precautions will be, if they want a phased reopen, a partial reopen,” Gov. Cuomo said on July 8. Those plans will come in July 31. Then in the first week of August, the state will announce the decision whether or not the schools will reopen. The schools say they need a decision by the first week of August.”
Of the 749 districts, the governor said that 127 districts have not submitted plans to the New York State Department of Health, and an additional 50 are incomplete or deficient. “The Department of Health is going to go through the plans this weekend and notify those incomplete and deficient school districts.” He said is a plan isn’t approved, that district’s reopening date could be delayed.
“I’m asking all the school districts to have discussions with the parents. There should be at least three discussions with parents.” The Conference of Big 5 School Districts, which includes Buffalo, New York City, Rochester, Syracuse, Yonkers, and Utica, must hold five discussion sessions. The governor is also requiring districts to hold at least one discussion with teachers to allow them to ask their questions and air their concerns.
The governor is also asking districts to have a specific plan by the end of next week on their websites for testing, tracing and remote learning.
“You must wear a mask at all times if social distancing can’t take place,” President of SUNY Empire State College Jim Malatras, and one of Cuomo’s advisors, said. He added, “Right now, there is no interscholastic sports approved yet. That is something that there are going to be ongoing discussions for.”
On July 13, the state released guidance for schools reopening, which said schools in phase four regions under the New York reopening guidelines, could reopen if daily infection rates remained below 5% using a 14-day average. As of now, each region in the state is in phase four and for the past few weeks the state’s overall infection rate has held steady at about 1%.
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However, the state’s guidance also says the schools will close if a region’s infection rate rises over 9%, in the event of another outbreak.
On Friday, the governor also announced the state had five additional coronavirus deaths. There were 714 additional cases in New York State, bringing the state total to 419,642. 579 people were hospitalized and 139 New Yorkers are in Intensive Care Unites.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Full Conference Call: