Schools to Remain Closed Through Rest of Academic Year

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday morning that all K-12 schools will be closed throughout New York State for the remainder of the academic year.

Cuomo said a decision on potential summer school sessions will be made at the end of May. He also called for districts to formulate a reopening plan.

Given the circumstances, the protections required for schools to socially distance their students and staff as well as arranging for transportation of the students makes it unrealistic to reopen in-classroom learning during May and June, Cuomo said.

“We don’t think it’s possible to do it in a way that would keep our children and students and educators safe,” the governor said.

Cuomo said that in order to have on-site summer school sessions, a possibility that has been raised by some educators, there would need to be a drop or stabilization of the COVID-19 infection rate for a prolonged period of time. Schools can choose to continue remote learning through the summer, he said.

Education Chancellor Betty Rosa and interim state Education Commissioner Shannon Tahoe issued a joint statement applauding the decision.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has put us all in a place where we are required to make difficult but necessary decisions to protect ourselves and our loved ones,” the statement read in part. “Closing schools for the remainder of the school year is the right one to protect New York’s students, teachers and school staff.”

Districts should start preparing reopening plans that include how officials would space students in classrooms, cafeterias and other areas of school grounds, a task that Cuomo acknowledged will be challenging.

However, he would not commit to whether schools may need to continue distance learning in September.

“There’s no decision on the fall because the fall is a long time away,” Cuomo said.

State Seeks Info on New COVID-19 Cases

Although the daily number of deaths and overall hospitalizations continue to slowly decline, the three-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases has stalled this week.

Cuomo said the state will be asking the hospitals for more information on how these people are getting infected and whether they are predominantly essential workers or getting sick at home from members of their own household who have tested positive or in some other manner.

Through Thursday, the three-day average of new COVID-19 cases was 954, the fourth consecutive day that number has ranged from 933 to 973. Without a consistent drop, large portions of the state will be unable to re-open. Cuomo last week said he would like to see new daily cases drop to between 200 and 400 in order start with the first phase of the reopening process.

“This is still too high a number of new cases every day,” Cuomo said. “It’s not where we were. It’s a lot better from where we were, but 1,000 new cases every day is still a very high infection rate. It’s still a burden on the hospital system.”

According to statistics from the state Department of Health from Thursday, Manhattan and Brooklyn accounted for just over 17 percent of the state’s new cases in each borough, followed by the Bronx at 12.8 percent, Queens at 11.9 percent, Nassau County at 10.1 percent, Westchester at 7.8 percent and Suffolk County at 7.4 percent.

Elsewhere, Erie County accounted for 3.7 percent of the state’s new cases, followed by 2.5 percent from Staten Island, 2.4 percent from Rockland County and 6.5 percent in the rest of the state.

There were 289 virus-related deaths on Thursday, pushing the state’s total to 18,899. Total hospitalizations dropped to just below 11,000 yesterday, from a high of nearly 19,000 in early April.

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