New York schools and colleges will remain closed for the rest of the academic year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday.
During his daily COVID-19 briefing, Cuomo announced that he was extending the original May 15 schools shutdown through the rest of the academic year as a precaution to help stop the spread of the virus.
A determination on summer school programs is expected by the end of May, Cuomo said.
“Given the situations and precautions that would have to be put in place to open schools with new protocols, we decided to close schools for the rest of the year,” Cuomo said. “How do you operate a school that’s socially distanced … with masks … with a public transportation system with fewer students?
“I don’t think it’s possible to do it in a way that would keep our children and students and educators safe, so we’re going to continue distance learning programs.”
Cuomo ordered that schools in the state close effective Wednesday, March 18 and waived the 180-day requirement for the number of mandatory school days. Colleges in the state were directed to move to distance learning effective Thursday, March 19.
Cuomo said that there is no timeline for when schools will reopen, but they should begin to come up with reopening plans for when they’re given the green light.
“There is no decision on the fall yet, because the fall is a long, long time away,” he said. “Schools should start preparing now, though, because this is going to be a real exercise.
“How does a school socially distance? How many more rooms would you need to do this? How many more buses do you need to socially distance on a bus,” he continued. “What about cafeterias or a dorm room? So they should start working on that now.”
Cuomo said that going forward, “the big question is September. Will you be ready to reopen in September?”
“It’s one thing to say you can figure out how to socially distance on a construction site, or socially distance in a manufacturing facility, but to figure out schools is different,” he added. “To say we’re going to figure that plan out and put it in place in the next week weeks is virtually impossible.
“You have to make sure you don’t make a mistake, because we’re talking about children either getting sick themselves or bringing it home with them, so the stakes are higher.”
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