A week after saying that he would have final authority on any decision about reopening New York City schools, or any schools in the state, Governor Andrew Cuomo released the official criteria for bringing back students to schools this fall.
"If you have the virus under control, reopen," Cuomo said on Tuesday. "If you don’t have the virus under control, you don’t reopen!"
What does control look like? If a region in Phase 4 of the reopening remains at a 5 percent (or lower) infection rate for 14 days, schools can reopen, he explained; however, schools will close if the regional infection rate is 9 percent or higher, using a seven-day average.
"That means the virus is moving rapidly, and it's not intelligent to open," Cuomo said of an infection rate of 9 percent or higher.
"We're not going to put our children in a place where their health is in danger," he added. "It’s that simple. Common sense and intelligence can still determine what we do even in this crazy environment."
The decision about whether a region can reopen schools will be made between August 1st and 7th, as regions are at different stages of reopening. Individual school districts will then determine specific guidelines for reopening. Recently, the state's overall positivity rate for coronavirus has hovered around 1-2 percent.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza shared the plan for NYC public schools last week, which offers a blended in-person and remote learning option, as well as a fully remote option. Parents must decide by August 7th if they want to opt into the fully remote segment.
Cuomo scoffed at President Donald Trump's demands that schools reopen and not heed the science or recommendations from public health experts, reminding everyone that Trump insisted that states reopen quickly for the economy. "Go ask Florida and Texas and Arizona how well that worked," he said, referring to states with worrisome surges in COVID-19 cases.
The governor's advisory council to "Reimagine Education" also shared their recommendations for reopening schools, which include flexible plans from districts; maximizing any possible spaces in the community for teaching; and prioritizing in-person education. The State Department of Health also recommended measures for schools like social distancing and mask-wearing for students and teachers (he also mentioned mask breaks when students can socially distance); screening; and cleaning procedures.