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Cuomo Says Schools Can Hold in-Person Classes With Conditions This Fall

Governor Andrew Cuomo (Mike Groll_Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

Aug. 7, 2020 By Michael Dorgan 

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that all schools across the state are permitted to re-open in the fall for in-person classes.

The governor gave the go-ahead after recognizing that all 10 regions across the state had met the requirements he set before schools were permitted to reopen in September.

In July, Cuomo said that schools would only be allowed to reopen in regions where the percentage of COVID-19 tests coming back positive was significantly below 5 percent.

All 10 regions across the state had met that requirement as of Friday, with the state average currently around 1 percent, he said.

The governor said that school districts would still need to get their reopening plans approved by the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Education Department before being permitted to hold in-person classes.

Cuomo warned that if the infection rate went above 5 percent he would review his decision.

However, Cuomo said he was optimistic that New Yorkers would work together to keep the rate down.

“If anybody can open schools, we can open schools,” the governor said at a press briefing Friday.

“We’ve kept that infection rate down, and we can bring the same level of intelligence to the school reopening that we brought to the economic reopening,” Cuomo said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has clashed with the governor on school issues throughout the pandemic, has not given the all-clear for New York City schools to reopen. However, they are on track to reopen in September, based on his standards.

De Blasio said Friday that city schools would be permitted to reopen as long as the percentage of positive tests was below 3 percent and that students and adults wore masks or face coverings. The percentage of positive COVID-19 cases in New York City stood at around 1 percent this week, according to state data.

Cuomo said that it would be up to school districts to decide on the layout of classes and they would need to get their plans approved by the state Department of Education.

The city announced last week that is planning to open on a hybrid model in which children attend in-person classes for one to three days per week and learn online for the rest of the time.

Cuomo said that parents and teachers must be involved in the reopening process and it is imperative that they feel safe and secure before returning to school.

“I have been deluged with calls from parents and teachers, and there’s a significant level of anxiety and concern,” he said.

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