Districts must have ‘new normal’ ready if schools can open: Cuomo

Rose Weldon
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that gyms throughout the state can reopen at 33 percent capacity on Aug. 24. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has asked New York’s 700 school districts to “have plans in place” in the event they can reopen in the fall after closing due to the coronavirus, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

The governor’s communications director, Dani Lever, said in a statement that while Cuomo hopes the districts can reopen, he did not want to endanger the health of school communities.

“The governor has also told all school districts to have plans ready for the ‘new normal’ in the event schools can open,” Lever said. “The governor hopes schools will reopen but will not endanger the health of students or teachers, and will make the determination once we have more current information.”

Lever added that the decision would ripple out and have numerous effects.

“We value the opinion of local politicians and the state’s 700 local school districts as to what should be done, but the public should not be confused on this important decision that has practical consequences for many,” Lever said. 

The state’s public schools were first closed on March 16 and were determined to be closed for the rest of the year on May 1, with no word yet on plans for the fall.

All told, the governor is waiting to make a final call until a clearer picture of the virus’ development can be seen, Lever said.

“The state law governing schools and business closings or openings has been in effect since the pandemic first started and all such decisions are made by state government and not local government,” Lever said. “Of course the state consults with local stakeholders and when it comes to opening schools in New York City we will consult with parents, teachers, health officials and local elected officials – but the governor has said any determination is premature at this point and we will need to see how the virus develops.”

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