Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a Sunday conference call with reporters, said, “I announced the other day that, by the (coronavirus) viral infection rate, all school districts in the state can open – can open. ‘If and how’ is left to the local school districts.”
On Friday, Cuomo said he is allowing school districts to choose “in-person, hybrid, outdoor education, remote education, a blend, half-day, quarter-day, third-day – that is all up to their discretion.”
He noted district administrators would be required to post specific guidance related to testing and tracing on school websites so that it can be more easily found by parents.
In addition, “The point I made about the consultation with teachers and parents was not just a helpful hint – that is required,” Cuomo said Sunday. “I have some school districts that said, ‘Well, do we have to talk to the parents?’ Yes, you have to consult with the parents. That is a requirement, that every school district must have at least three online, Zoom – however they want to do it – consultations, discussions with the parents explaining the plans, and answering questions.”
School districts in Western New York are required to hold at least three discussion sessions with parents, and one with teachers, by Aug. 21.
“I don't get what people or school districts could be confused by,” Cuomo said. “If the teachers do not agree to come back, it is extraordinarily difficult – if not impossible – to operate a school. If the parents don't agree to send their children back to school, I don't know how you have school without students. Even in this new COVID-crisis creativity, you still need teachers, and you still need students to operate a school – best I know. And you're not going to get them back just because the school district says, ‘This is what we're going to do.’ I'm telling you that.
“I talk to the parents; I talk to the teachers: They have real issues and real concerns. And there has to be a dialogue and there has to be a discussion. These plans were not sent down from the heaven, they’re constructed by the local school district. I applaud the local school districts for their activity, and their work and their creativity, but they have to have a consultation with the parents and the teachers – and time is short.”
Cuomo is permitting school districts to reopen for in-person instruction based on a coronavirus viral infection rate of less than 5%.