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Gov. Andrew Cuomo addressed the media on Monday, issuing further guidance on how New York schools can reopen in the fall. (All images courtesy of the Office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo addressed the media on Monday, issuing further guidance on how New York schools can reopen in the fall. (All images courtesy of the Office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo)

Cuomo outlines metrics for school reopening

Mon, Jul 13th 2020 04:40 pm

Schools in phase four regions can reopen if daily infection rate remains below 5% using 14-day average

Schools will close if regional infection rate rises over 9% after Aug. 1

Finalized DOH and Reimagine Education Advisory Council guidance and guiding principles available here

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced new, data-driven guidance for reopening schools in New York. Schools in a region can reopen if that region is in phase four of reopening, and if its daily infection rate remains below 5% or lower using a 14-day average since “PAUSE” was lifted.

Schools will close if the regional infection rate rises above 9%, using a seven-day average, after Aug. 1.

New York will make the formula determination during the week of Aug. 1-7.

The state, the Reimagine Education Advisory Council and the Department of Health released finalized guidance and guiding principles for reopening schools, which are available here. The DOH and governor's Reimagine Council are working closely with the Department of Education as it releases education guidance. Plans to reopen schools are due on July 31.

Topics addressed by state guidance include:

  • Masks/PPE
  • Social distancing
  • Cohort structures
  • Restructuring space to maximize in-class instruction
  • Transportation
  • Food service
  • After care and extracurriculars
  • Screening
  • Tracing
  • Cleaning and disinfecting

"Everybody wants to reopen schools, but you only reopen if it's safe to reopen, and that's determined by the data. You don't hold your finger up and feel the wind; you don't have an inspiration; you don't have a dream; you don't have an emotion – look at the data," Cuomo said. "We test more and we have more data than any state. If you have the virus under control, reopen. If you don't have the virus under control, then you can't reopen. We're not going to use our children as the litmus test and we're not going to going to put our children in a place where their health is endangered. It's that simple. Common sense and intelligence can still determine what we do, even in this crazy environment. We're not going to use our children as guinea pigs. What I say to the experts is very simple. I'm making the determination as to whether or not I would send my daughter to school. If it's safe, I'll send her. If it's not safe, I'm not going to send her. And you can determine that by science.”

Speaking Monday on LCTV, Niagara County Legislature Chairwoman Becky Wydysh said, “We finally have a true glimpse at what the fall will look like. From here, of course, it remains to be seen what guidelines schools themselves will come up with to have a safe plan to keep our children safe while they're on the bus and in school. So, still a lot of questions to be answered.”

Public Health Director Daniel Stapleton said, “I'm glad it's data-driven. We need to make sure we're making decisions smartly, and that’s with a lot of data.”

He is in regular contact with school district superintendents and, “I think together we're really talking about what we think makes sense – make sure that people – not only the students, but also the staff and the teachers – are safe, as well. So, we'll continue to work with them.”

Stapleton added, “The fact is, right now, our daily infection rate over the past week has been about between 1% and 2%. So, if the rate is 5%, then right now things look fine. But we need to make sure we take the data; we look at the numbers on a regular basis – even a daily basis – to make sure we're doing things right. But superintendents take this very serious.”

Wydysh said, “I think the point to take away here, to our community, is that, as of today – the way the numbers look today – we can say that we most likely will be opening school in the fall. But again, that can change on a daily basis. We see so many states right now that are struggling; their numbers are spiking upward very quickly. We are lucky in New York state to not be in that situation, but again, we're working very hard to be sure that that doesn't happen here.”

New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta said, “As we’ve said throughout this process, health and safety of students, families, educators and other school staff, and equitable access to a high-quality education, must be the top priorities in reopening schools. What we’ve heard from Gov. Cuomo, Chancellor Rosa and the Board of Regents has us moving in the right direction. The fact-based, data-driven approach to reopening outlined today stands in stark contrast to the reckless approach that some other states and the federal government are trying to ram through. We will review in detail the final state health and educational guidance to ensure it does indeed balance the educational needs of our students with the advice of health care experts.

“But make no mistake, for schools to reopen the right way – with health, safety and equity in mind – we know that federal and state funding will absolutely be necessary. State guidance may be the road map for districts, their school staff and their families to work on reopening plans that are right for their communities, but nobody should be discounting the need for the resources to actually pull safe, equitable reopening off.”

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.


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