Kevin B. Coughlin / Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Office
Governor Andrew Cuomo said Saturday that New York City should consider adjusting its school closure policy if the citywide COVID-19 infection rate reaches 3 percent and take a more localized approach.
The governor told reporters during a conference call that he had earlier spoken with Mayor Bill de Blasio about the 3 percent standard, which would apply to all public schools in the city. Cuomo suggested that the city work with parents and teachers to adopt changes that would allow individual school communities to reopen or remain open if the test showed low positive rates.
The standard became a topic of discussion this week as COVID-19 cases soared across the city. Under the reopening plan between the city and the UAW, all public schools will close and revert to distance learning if the average citywide COVID-19 positive rate for seven days exceeds 3 percent.
Since the policy was put in place in the summer, Cuomo said, the city and state have vastly expanded capabilities for COVID-19 testing, enabling school communities to run rapid tests. Increased testing has allowed the state and the city to detect small clusters of the COVID-19 cases that have spread, and to provide a local response to them.
The governor said he advised de Blasio to take a similar approach when it comes to keeping schools open or closed.
“3 percent ago [benchmark] Set, we got more advanced, and we have more testing capacity. “We are now testing on a large scale in schools,” said Cuomo. “Add to your calculus a positive rate in school because if the school is not spreading the virus, or if the school has a positive rate that is much lower than the surrounding area, then the school is not the problem. And you could argue that keeping the children in school is part of The solution is not children spending time on the street in neighborhoods where the infection rate is higher.
“It still has to be a group decision, because if you don’t have parental consent, they won’t send their students,” Cuomo said. He saw school closures as having “side effects” that further affect the city and state, such as impeding parents’ ability to go to work and affecting nutrition programs that affect low-income residents.
Emphasizing that he has the authority to keep schools open on whatever decision de Blasio might make, Cuomo said the decision to change policy rests with the city’s education department and the parents and teachers who have worked collectively on the reopening plan this summer.
“I am telling the folks now [that] The governor said, “I know you all agree with this, but something has changed in the meantime. With COVID, the facts change, and when the facts change, there may be conclusions that should change. … Why not add the school infection rate factor that you can also think In it, whether schools remain open?
The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This story appeared for the first time amny.com.