Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters on Saturday that Mayor Bill de Blasio should reconsider closing the entire public school system if the seven-day average positivity rate for COVID-19 exceeds 3% -- the rate that triggers a full shutdown -- and instead close them on a school-by-school basis.

"Add to your calculus, a positivity rate in the school," Cuomo said during a telephone news conference. "Because if the school is not spreading the virus, or if the school has a much lower positivity rate than the surrounding area, then the school is not part of the problem. And you could argue keeping the children in the school is part of the solution rather than the children spending time on the street in the neighborhood where the infection rate is higher."

Cuomo suggested that this should be happening in the 22 schools currently in orange zones in Southern Brooklyn. A testing protocol should be set up in this schools similar to weekly testing protocols in yellow zones.

"You close the schools, you make it much harder for parents to go to work," Cuomo added. "Because now they have to worry about who's going to take care of the children who are at home."

His comments come as the seven-day rolling average for COVID-19 positivity rates drifted back down to 2.5% after edging close to 3%, the benchmark that triggers an entire shutdown of the public school system. Currently, some 280,000 students are enrolled in school for blended learning, de Blasio's programming model that reduced the number of students who are physically in a building. De Blasio has even suggested that positivity rates through the city Department of Education's randomized testing protocol are at 1%.

Mayor Bill de Blasio had instituted the 3% threshold as a metric for closing schools back in July, which the state and United Federation of Teachers union agreed on. A reopening plan had been submitted and approved by the state in August, ahead of schools reopening the following month. Schools where a student or staffer tests positive for COVID-19 are closed for 24 hours, with students and staffers who interacted with the student mandated to quarantine for two weeks. When there are two or more cases in a school community that are not linked the whole building closes for two weeks.

Cuomo -- who acknowledged he can reverse any decision de Blasio makes when it comes to school closures -- said that targeted closures would require some buy-in from parents and teachers.

Parents and teachers who spoke with Gothamist/WNYC said they were elated with Cuomo's proposal.

"Closing based on the actual schools and the conditions there makes more sense," Lisa Brassell, a parent of two elementary school kids in Manhattan, told Gothamist in an email. "Closing based on high rates makes sense, but 3% is not a high rate to close on such short notice."

Another parent, Eve Robinson, said revising the threshold makes sense since the data is showing schools are not vectors for infection.

"To hold onto an overly strident threshold based on outdated information seems too rigid.  It also is unlikely to successfully keep the COVID numbers low, because all the businesses that cater to adults are the things that are really helping drive the rates up," said Robinson. "Closing schools alone won’t stop the spread, so the rates won’t go down and schools will just stay closed, earlier than they need to be and likely for months."

Evan O'Connell, a teacher in Brooklyn, told Gothamist that Cuomo's suggestion is already baked into the guidance it's received from the city Department of Education. But he cautioned that a change in strategy may cause the problem to worsen.

"There's no way to localize a shutdown response in school buildings alone when we criss-cross the city, some of us on public transportation, in order to attend any semblance of in person schooling," said O'Connell.

There are no indications from City Hall over whether it would consider updating its school reopening plan.