(The Center Square) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo reiterated on Wednesday that the decision to reopen schools, both in New York City and statewide, rests with his administration, and that decision on whether the 700 districts statewide are reopening will come in about a month.
By next Monday, the state plans to release its “finalized guidance” to the school districts, Cuomo said. That document will be developed based on conversations state education leaders are holding with stakeholders. From there, the districts will need to submit their reopening plans by July 31, with state leaders making decisions the first week in August.
The governor said that’s as late as the school districts told him they could wait and still be ready to welcome students in September.
“We want to make that decision with the best available data,” he said. “The facts change here day to day, week to week. I understand there's a drop-dead date where you have to make a decision by a certain date but wait until that date to make a decision because the facts may change.”
Cuomo’s briefing came about 90 minutes after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza unveiled more details about the city’s plan to be ready for September. According to it, most kids in the NYC public school system will alternate between going to school three days in one week and two days in the next. Students will participate in online learning on other days.
Parents also will have the option to enroll their kids in a fully remote environment.
The mayor did say in his remarks Wednesday that city leaders would work with state officials “to make the best decision” for all parties.
What drew the governor’s ire on Wednesday was tweets by President Donald Trump from earlier Wednesday morning. Following up on comments he made Tuesday, the president indicated he would consider cutting off funding to states that decide not to reopen schools even as cases of the coronavirus surge across most of the country.
“There is something called the Constitution that guides government power,” said Cuomo, who added the president’s tweets were getting old. “Then there are a series of laws that are based on that Constitution, and the president does not have the authority to open schools.
“We will open the schools if it is safe to open the schools.”
Cuomo also announced that malls in regions that are in phase four of the state’s reopening plan may open Friday as long as they have an enhanced ventilation filtration system that uses MERV 13 grade filters or a system that accepts at least MERV 11 grade filters.
And a week after the governor announced the cancellation of the state fair, he revealed that all county fairs would also be canceled until further notice.