Schools across NY to stay closed for rest of academic year

In a decision that affects millions of children, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday that schools across New York would remain closed for the rest of the academic year.

The order, which applies to 4.2 million students statewide, continues a shutdown that had been set to expire May 15. The Democratic governor said it is simply too risky to reopen when the virus is still sending nearly 1,000 people into the hospital every day.

“We don’t think it’s possible to do that in a way that would keep our children and students and educators safe, so we’re going to have the schools remain closed for the rest of the year, we’re going to continue the distance learning programs," Cuomo said.

“We must protect our children," he said. "Every parent and citizen feels that."

A decision about whether to allow summer school inside classroom buildings will be deferred until the end of May, he said. Whenever schools are allowed to reopen, each district's plan would need state approval. A decision about whether summer camps will be allowed to operate will also be made later.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had previously said that he could not see public schools in the city reopening this calendar year.

Education officials said they welcomed Cuomo's announcement Friday. Robert Schneider, executive director of the New York State School Boards Association, said it would not be safe to open schools without knowing how to safely transport students and put in place social distancing and other safeguards.

“Clearly, schools are not ready to open for classroom learning, and they won’t be until we can adequately protect our students and staff,” Schneider said in a written statement.

Schools nationwide are evaluating whether they will keep the institutions closed, and potentially even continue remote learning in the fall.

Cuomo made the announcement at his daily coronavirus briefing, which also included updated fatality and infection numbers. Cuomo said 289 people died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, on Thursday, down from 306 the day before.

In neighboring New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy said that a decision would not be made on schools until the following week.

With the Associated Press.


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