What to Know
- Gov. Andrew Cuomo released new information about the possible reopening of schools in New York amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
- According to the governor, a school's region must be in Phase IV and maintain a daily infection rate 5% or lower over a 14-day average in order for the schools in that area to reopen.
- However, if a spike is seen between when the announcement is made and the first day of school, schools will immediately close if the regional rate shoots past 9% over a seven-day average.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo released new information about the possible reopening of schools in New York amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state Education Department presented a framework for the long-awaited reopening guidance to the Board of Regents on Monday.
“Creating a framework to reopen New York’s schools has been an undertaking of paramount effort, made even more difficult by the devastating impact the pandemic has had here in New York State,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa. “This framework and the guidance which will follow allows schools to plan for the upcoming school year under three different scenarios that aim to keep our children, educators and school personnel safe and encourages equitable access to high-quality services for all students.”
While Cuomo says the state has maintained a “low and stable” number of people testing positive for coronavirus, the numbers of cases in other states like Florida are troubling.
"You reopen if it is safe to reopen. You look at the data," Cuomo said. "We will not use our children as guinea pigs."
The New York governor offered clarity on the formula used by the state to determine a region's ability to open schools in the fall. In order to reopen, he said, the school's region must be in Phase IV and maintain a daily infection rate 5% or lower over a 14-day average.
"That means the virus is under control. That means it’s safe to reopen and then the schools can proceed to reopening in that region, exactly how, you look at the state guidelines. This determination will be made the first week in August," Cuomo said.
However, if a spike is seen between when the announcement is made and the first day of school, schools will immediately close if the regional rate shoots past 9% over a seven-day average.
"Once you get a clear and can reopen what you do is you follow the guidelines. We’ll leave it to the 700 school districts across the state to come up with a specific plan pursuant to those guidelines," Cuomo said. "We have done state health guidelines. The state department of education is doing state education guidelines, which will incorporate our health guidelines."
The guidelines presented by the state's Department of Education to the Board of Regents include:
- Perform health checks and screenings, per DOH guidance, and recognize signs and symptoms of illness in students and staff; develop plans to maximize social distancing; develop plans to manage and isolate ill persons until they can be sent home; instruct students and staff in proper hand and respiratory hygiene; require wearing masks or face coverings; and develop cleaning and disinfecting procedures for the school in accordance with guidance set forth by the CDC and DOH;
- Schools and school districts should promote social distancing while maintaining existing safety requirements designed to protect students. To accomplish this, schools may expand their physical footprint or change the way they utilize space. Schools should also continue to meet or exceed ventilation requirements and may consult with design professionals to increase ventilation and filtration;
- Each district will be required to: perform regular school bus disinfection measures; train school bus staff regarding social distancing on the bus, at stops, and at unloading times; and train staff regarding the wearing of masks. Students will wear masks and social distance on the bus;
- Mandatory teaching and learning requirements include: clear opportunities for equitable instruction for all students; continuity of learning when using any instructional model; standards-based instruction; substantive daily interaction between teachers and students; and clear communication plans between parents and schools;
- Districts and schools must: have knowledge of the level of access all students and teachers have in their places of residence; to the extent practicable, address the need to provide devices and internet access to students and teachers who currently do not have sufficient access; and provide multiple ways for students to participate in learning and demonstrate mastery of learning standards in remote/blended models.
Certain of the guidelines are similar to those previously announced by New York City for its reopening of 3,000 child care centers. For example, children will undergo health screenings and parents will receive health questionnaires before dropping them off.
Other guidelines for the city's child care centers also include a maximum of 15 children are allowed inside a room at the same time. Lunch will be provided using plexiglass dividers and there will be no sharing of food or toys.
Prior to the opening of child care centers, it was announced face covering would not be mandated for children. Following Mayor de Blasio's updated guidance Monday morning, its not clear what rule takes priority.
On the heels of a 24-hour period without coronavirus deaths in New York City, de Blasio and city health officials are issuing new guidance for wearing face coverings indoors.
New Yorkers should wear a mask or face covering indoors at all times, even at work and in large spaces regardless if social distancing can be met, de Blasio said Monday morning.