In the end, surprising no one, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Friday that all of New York State’s schools can open.
COVID infection rates across the state are at one percent—well below the minimum set for reopening.
Remote learning, testing, and tracing remain concerns, Governor Cuomo said, and schools will be required to post their plans for addressing them online.
They’ll also be required to have at least three meetings with parents by August 21 to review their reopening plan—something local schools are doing—as well as one meeting with teachers.
“You look at our infection rate, we are probably in the best situation in the country right now, as incredible as that is,” Governor Cuomo said.
“If anyone can open schools, we can open schools. That’s true for every region in the state. Period.”
Locally, most schools are planning for in-school instruction for at least grades K-8 with high schoolers alternating days in-school and remote learning.
Schools are also giving all students the choice of all-remote learning—not the same as homeschooling, they stress; remote learners remain a student at their school while homeschooled students withdraw and must submit their own plan for learning.
Between now and the first day of school, Governor Cuomo said, “We’re going to watch the infection rate. If there is a spike in the infection rate, then we can revisit it.
“But for planning purposes, they can reopen.”
That decision moves schools to Step 2, he said, posting the additional plans for remote learning, testing, and tracing—all among the concerns he said he’s been “deluged with”--and holding meetings.
Testing’s especially troublesome, he said: most plans said if a student has a temperature, they have to be tested for COVID.
“What does that mean? How is the student tested? Where is the student tested? Teachers also want to know how [they] can get a test and how that would be done.”
The Governor wants the additional plans online by Friday.
Asked how the state will prevent what’s happened in nursing homes, where more than 6,000 deaths have been blamed on COVID after those recovering from the virus were sent there—a plan that was eventually scrapped—from repeating in schools, Governor Cuomo admitted, “That is a very big question,” and one of the top five he gets.
“The answer is testing,” he said, “but that is a conversation.”
As of Friday, 127 of the state’s 749 schools had yet to submit reopening plans and an additional 50 weren’t complete, Governor Cuomo said, but those that have submitted plans are cleared to open.
Schools can delay opening, he said.
“There is no one size fits all. I can’t fashion a plan that will work in every school district.
“We can bring the same intelligence to school reopening as economic relief. If anyone can do it, we can.”