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COVID-19: School Closures Should Be Regional Decision, Westchester County Executive Says

Westchester County Executive George Latimer
Westchester County Executive George Latimer Photo Credit: Provided

Westchester County Executive George Latimer believes that the choice of re-opening schools amid the novel coronavirus outbreak should be a regional, not local decision, factoring in neighboring states and counties.

Last month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order that required that all schools statewide remain closed through at least Wednesday, April 15. He and his aides are expected to then evaluate that situation and make a new determination about whether schools can reopen or will be closed for a longer stretch.

“Public education is very important to all of us,” Cuomo said. “The other side of the balance beam is public health. We decided to close schools because I believed it was a safer choice to help reduce the spread. That's why we did it.”

Latimer said that when it comes time to potentially open up school districts, it should be a regional, collaborative decision, saying that during the pandemic, “borders are blurred.”

“We strongly believe the decision to close the school system should be one that is done for the region as a whole. While we sit here in Westchester County, our borders are blurred with our neighboring counties and New York City,” he said. “We as a state are stronger when we work together during this public health crisis. We look forward to continuing to work with the governor for the betterment of all New Yorkers during this pandemic.”

During his daily COVID-19 press briefing on Monday, April 13, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that there are now 195,031 confirmed cases statewide, which have resulted in the death of 10,056 New Yorkers.

Cuomo previously said that schools will continue to operate under their Distance Learning Plans, and will continue to provide any services previously provided to “mitigate the consequence of their closing.”

The state is also continuing to waive the mandatory rule mandating that schools provide a minimum of 180 days of learning.

“When you make a decision you have to weigh the benefit versus the burden. We don’t do this joyfully, but if you look at where we are, and the number of cases still increasing, it only makes sense.”

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