Gov. Cuomo expected to make school decision next week

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NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 10: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at a press conference held in LaGuardia Airport’s new Terminal B on June 10, 2020 in New York City. Citing LaGuardia Airport’s old age and criticisms comparing it to a “third-world country,” Cuomo praised the airport’s drastic remodeling, a mutli-year, multi-billion-dollar construction project. (Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images)

(WETM) – The deadline set for New York school districts to submit their plans to resume instruction in the fall amid the coronavirus pandemic has passed, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’s ready to make an initial decision on reopening schools next week.

“Schools should plan on reopening,” Cuomo said via conference call Saturday morning, one day after his July 31 deadline for the districts.

Its now been five months since the state’s first recorded case of the coronavirus, and New York continues the churn further into reopening practices while keeping some measures in place to protect the progress made since the pandemic’s peak in the tri-state just a couple months ago.

Whether or not New York schools resume in-person instruction in the fall, a number parents are expected to keep their children home to continue instruction through the remote learning started at the beginning of the pandemic. Anecdotally, Cuomo says his office has received a flood of phone calls from parents concerned about plans to reopen schools.

“The discussion assumes if the schools open all the parents will send their kids back to school. That is not the case,” Cuomo said.

Remote learning may not be the perfect answer to safety concerns, however, as each district deploys different strategies and resources for its students.

“Remote learning, if not done well, can be a vehicle of division. Remote learning tends to work better in the wealthier school districts and tends to work less well in poorer school districts,” Cuomo reflected on the call.

Cuomo gave all school districts until July 31 to submit their plans to safely resume instruction and mitigate the spread of the virus. Of the 700 districts in the state, around 50, including New York City, had not formally submitted their plans, the governor said Saturday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza detailed the city’s proposal at the end of the week, focused on reopening schools if the percentage of citywide positive tests is less than 3 percent over a seven-day rolling average. If that percentage is equal to 3 percent or higher, schools will close. The city, along with the rest of the state, has seen just a 1 percent seven-day rolling positive test rate for weeks now.

The plan the city has drafted includes closing a classroom if one or more students from that class test positive for coronavirus and switching to remote learning for 14 days. If two or more students in different classrooms test positive, officials will close the entire school and enact remote learning for the same time period. If at least two children are infected and the link is unclear, the school will be closed pending the outcome of an investigation.

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