Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave schools the greenlight to reopen classrooms on Friday as long as coronavirus infection rates remain low in their communities, the New York Times reported.
Cuomo said the most devastating period of New York’s outbreak has passed, and communities across the state have COVID-19 case numbers that make opening schools acceptable.
The announcement comes amid an ongoing nationwide debate over whether it is safe for schools to reopen, with public teachers’ unions generally opposed to reopening. (RELATED: ‘Stop This Political Nonsense’: Trump Calls For Schools To Reopen, Blames Democrats For Closures)
“Everywhere in the state, every region is below the threshold that we established,” Cuomo said during a conference call with reporters, according to the Associated Press. “If there’s a spike in the infection rate, if there’s a matter of concern in the infection rate, then we can revisit.”
Cuomo’s administration said schools will be free to remain open so long as the infection rate in their communities remains below 5%, according to NYT.
Cuomo’s announcement appears to cut against the plan Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio released in early July, which said schools would not be able to fully reopen in September. President Donald Trump has long pushed for state leaders to allow their schools to reopen, threatening to cut federal funding to school districts that remain closed or partially closed.
“We have to open our schools. Open our schools. Stop this nonsense,” Trump said July 10. “It’s only political nonsense. They don’t want to open because they think it will help them on November 3rd. I think it will hurt them on November 3rd.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics has also called for schools to reopen, saying the threat posed by keeping students stuck at home outweighs the potential danger of spreading coronavirus. Several recent studies have also found that children are far less likely to spread COVID-19 to one another or adults than other demographics.
“Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation,” the group said according to U.S. News.