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Cuomo Unveils COVID-19 Requirements That Must Be Met for Schools to Reopen

(Flickr/ Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo)

June 13, 2020 By Allie Griffin

Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled the requirements that each county must meet before their schools are permitted reopen in the fall.

Cuomo said that schools would be allowed to reopen in regions that are in Phase IV of the state’s reopening plan and where the daily infection rate remains below 5 percent on a 14-day average.

New York City currently has has an infection rate of between 1 and 2 percent and is in Phase III of reopening. The city is eligible–upon approval– to enter Phase IV of reopening as early as July 20, following the state’s two week per phase schedule.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that New York City schools would reopen in September and detailed his reopening plan last week. However, Cuomo has repeatedly said it is the state’s decision whether to open schools in the fall.

He said the state will make the call the first week in August based on the requirements announced today.

“Everybody wants to reopen the schools, I want to reopen the schools,” Cuomo said. “It’s not do we reopen or not — you reopen if it is safe to reopen.”

He said the decision must be based on the data, which determines whether the coronavirus is under control in each region.

“If you don’t have the virus under control, than you can’t reopen [schools],” he said. “We’re not going to use our children as the litmus test and we’re not going to put our children in a place where their health is endangered.”

However, if there is a spike in COVID-19 cases after schools are approved to reopen, Cuomo said he reserves the right to close them. Schools will be closed, he said, if the regional infection rate surpasses 9 percent on a seven-day average after Aug. 1.

Cuomo also detailed state health guidelines for schools, including face mask requirements.

Each school district is responsible for developing an individualized COVID-19 reopening plan.

New York City schools will offer a mix of remote and in-class learning under its plan, de Blasio announced last week. Most students will have in-person classes two to three times per week and on the remaining days they will rely on remote learning.

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