Cuomo keeps schools closed for rest of the academic year

Governor Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that all schools and colleges in New York will remain closed for the rest of the academic year and will continue to provide distance learning.

“You have 700 public school districts, 4,800 schools in this state, and then you have 1,800 private schools, 89 SUNY and CUNY campuses, and 100 private campuses for a total of 4.2 million students,” Cuomo said at his press briefing on Friday. “So, the decisions on the education system are obviously critically important. We must protect our children.”

The schools will be required to continue meal programs and child-care services for essential workers. The state will make a decision about summer school programming by the end of May.

Cuomo also directed all schools and colleges to create reopening plans that “re-imagine” school facilities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These plans should consider how schools can monitor the spread of COVID-19, how to reinforce student safety, when and how to resume extracurricular activities, protocols for special student populations, steps to ensure student mental health, and alternative academic calendars.

“We want schools to start developing our plan to reopen, and the plan has to have protocols in place that incorporate everything that we are now doing in society and everything that we learned,” Cuomo said.

All plans will be reviewed and approved by the state.

Cuomo also said, “Schools have asked about summer school and whether we will have attendance in schools for summer schools. That decision will be made by the end of the month.”


Educators applaud

The New York State School Boards Association, New York State United Teachers, the Regents chancellor, and the interim state education commissioner have all applauded Cuomo’s decision today to keep the state’s schools closed for the rest of the school year.

“We have said all along that the health and safety of students and educators must be the primary concern during this crisis. Keeping school buildings and colleges closed for the rest of this academic year is the smart choice,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta in a statement, adding that his union would continue advocating that summer school programming be voluntary, with decisions on what is right for students made at the local level.

“Closing schools for the remainder of the school year is the right one to protect New York’s students, teachers, and school staff,” said Chancellor Betty Rosa and Interim Commissioner Shannon Tahoe in a joint statement. “We are continuously inspired by the work of educators, staff and parents across the state to provide instruction throughout the pandemic. We know it hasn’t always been easy, but we must continue to forge ahead for the benefit of our students.”

“Clearly, schools are not ready to open for classroom learning, and they won’t be until we can adequately protect our students and staff,” said Robert Schneider, executive director of the New York State School Boards Association, in a release from the association. He called keeping the schools closed “the only responsible choice.”

The association represents more than 670 school boards and more than 5,200 school board members in New York.

The Board of Regents and the State Education Department have formed a statewide task force made up of educational leaders to guide the reopening of the state’s schools. The task force will work with the Department of Health and share recommendations with the Governor Cuomo’s New York Forward Re-Opening Advisory Board.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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