More than 50 school superintendents throughout the Hudson Valley met with New York State officials to discuss contingency plans as concerns mount over the spread of the novel strain of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Some of those school officials are now informing students, parents and staff members some schools could be closed for several weeks as the virus continues to spread in the region.
Individual districts are expected to announce their plans for students and closures over the weekend following the meeting with members of the state Education Department at Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES in Yorktown Heights on Friday, March 13.
In New Rochelle on Friday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo noted that conducting “mass closures of schools is not without consequence,” citing the burden it puts on communities and parents.
He also announced that schools that close for an extended period of time will not be punished for not having 180 days of instruction, which is the state minimum.
Most schools have short-term plans in place, but are expected to make announcements about longer-term plans moving forward as the coronavirus spreads in the Hudson Valley.
“As a region, it is our expectation that we will obtain further guidance from New York State related to our questions and concerns during this temporary closure,” Irvington Schools Superintendent Kris Harrison said in announcing the district will be closed on Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17.
"Based on the information available on Tuesday, the status of the school closing will be re-evaluated," Harrison said. "It would be prudent for parents to prepare for an extended school closing as are our teachers.”
New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta on Friday called for the closure of schools in counties with confirmed cases of the coronavirus:
“With the coronavirus continuing to spread, we are calling on state and local health and school officials to take decisive action and proactively close all schools in counties where there are confirmed cases of this virus," Pallotta said in a statement.
“As schools close, local school district officials must remain in close contact with not only educators, but also appropriate social service agencies and other organizations that know best how to provide education, free meals, mental health services and other critical resources that many children in every corner of the state need during a shutdown period.
"All of these resources — from learning materials to food — must be provided in an equitable way that meets the needs of every student in a school district regardless of their age, economic status and where they live.
"We will continue to stay in contact with officials at every level to ensure our children receive everything they need during this time.”
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