ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Governor Andrew Cuomo has authorized all schools in New York State to reopen in the fall based on the current infection rates.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that every school will fully reopen. The Governor is leaving it up to the districts to decide how and when they want to reopen. Currently, there’s a lot of flexibility as long as the districts get the “okay” from the state health department.
“They can do in-person school, but it is up to them. In-person, hybrid, outdoor education, remote education, a blend; half-day, quarter-day, third-day, that is all up to their discretion,” the Governor said in a conference call Friday.
The Governor said he “can’t fashion” a one-size fits all plan for all of the 700+ school districts.
Bob Lowry with the NYS Council of School Superintendents said the organization didn’t take a position on whether schools should be allowed to reopen in person or not, but he said they were encouraged by Friday’s announcement.
“Superintendents, boards, teachers, parents, and so forth, they worked hard on plans and now they can go forward with those plans,” Lowry said.
The Governor said, of the 749 districts, 127 districts still haven’t submitted their plans to the Department of health for reopening and and another 50 are either incomplete or deficient and will need to be further worked on. He also wants school districts to hold virtual sessions with parents between now and August 21 and another session with just teachers to explain their plans and answer questions.
“These school districts have to be talking to the parents and talking to the teachers, because if the teachers don’t come back, then you can’t really open schools. If the parents don’t send their students, then you’re not really opening the schools,” the Governor said.
Additionally, school districts will have to post their remote learning plans, contact tracing and testing plans online.
In a statement, New York State United Teachers said: “…We’re thankful the governor agrees that forcing people back into the classroom when they feel their health is threatened is not what should happen. So if districts need to phase in the reopening of buildings, so be it. We must err on the side of caution. Period.”
Leaders at the state education department also put out a statement Friday asking the Governor and legislature to work with them to assist districts with purchasing personal protective equipment and technology.