NY Governor Cuomo to Make Decision on Schools Reopening Later this Week
During his press briefing today, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo stated that he’ll be making a decision on whether schools in the state would be reopening based upon health metrics.
Meanwhile during his own press briefing earlier in the day, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio once again stated that which he’s mentioned numerous times in the past. How parents were surveyed in the NYC area and 75% of the 400,000 responses gotten indicate a desire to have kids return to the classroom.
The Mayor and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza spoke extensively on the subject during last Friday’s press conference.
It’s not clear as to whether the Governor would be making a state-wide decision or if certain regions, like New York City, might be excluded or limited in any reopening plans. This all comes to mind in light of the city’s restrictions in its entry to Phase 3 and Phase 4 re-openings. Unlike other regions of the state, the city’s not been able to open indoor spaces such as malls, museums or other cultural institutions. Nor has it been allowed to have indoor dining for its food service industry.
It was on March 16 that the Governor signed an executive order mandating that schools be closed by March 18 due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
First, the Mayor’s words:
“And now we’re ready to reopen schools the right way and to serve our kids. And our kids have been through so much. Let’s remember, we have to think about the needs of parents, educators, staff, all the time. We have to make sure everyone’s safe, but we also have to remember our kids and what they’ve been through, the challenges, the trauma, the dislocation. We owe it to them to give them anything we can to help them move forward after what they’ve been through. And I know for a fact – and I’ve talked to a lot of educators about this – that when kids are in school, there’s the greatest possibility that they can learn better, that they can continue to grow and develop socially. There’s so many reasons for a child to be in school, including the food they get, the health care they get, the emotional support they get. This is why it matters so much, but it has to be done safely. Now, the people have spoken. We surveyed parents – 400,000 responses to our survey, 75 percent want their kids back in the classroom, and that is exactly what we are going to do.”
Following this video of the Governor speaking about schools is the related transcript.
“On the issue of schools, I want to be clear: We have 700 school districts in this state. The districts are putting in plans for how they will handle the reopening. I’ll make a determination later this week on the infection rate whether or not we’re going to reopen schools. But, just because a district puts out a plan, doesn’t mean that if we reopen the school, parents are going to come or teachers are going to come. It’s not, “Well the government said the schools are open – now everybody must go.” It’s not going to happen that way. I’m talking to parents – I am telling you it is not going to happen that way. They are not going to trust the school district. This is an issue of public health.
Just because the school district says, “You shouldn’t worry about your child’s public health,” that’s not going to be enough. Not in this environment. Not when you’re dealing with situations that everybody knows that nobody has the facts. Parents are going to want to understand the information for themselves. I’ll tell you what they’re asking me, I’ll tell you what they’re going to ask every school district. “How are you going to test? How many tests are you going to take? Are you sure you have them lined up? Are you sure those are enough tests? Is it a representative sample? How long is it going to take to turn around the tests – is it two days, four days, seven days?” They’re informed, parents. They’re the most informed people on this issue probably in the country. They’ve lived through it. They’re going to have questions. This is not going to be the school district puts out a plan and then by fiat, by dictatorship, that is the plan.
You need the parents to be comfortable. You need the teachers to be comfortable. You need the children to show up at school and there’s going to have to be a discussion. You look at some of these plans – they’re indecipherable. Even if you can understand the plan, they raise questions and parents are going to need to talk it through. I encourage every school district: Set up a discussion room now, start explaining to the parents now, have those conversations now, you can’t call people into a conference room but you can invite them on to a video chat or onto a chat room, but they have questions and they need answers and time is short. That should start now because the parents are going to make the decision.
Nobody is going to tell me whether or not I should send my child to school I’m going to make that determination. And I’m going to want to make sure send informed determination. And I’m not going to trust just what’s on some school district’s plan. I’m not going to do that. And parents have to be comfortable and they should be comfortable because they’re the ultimate decision makers. Just because I say the infection rate is low, that’s not going to cause a parent to send the child back to school. Just because the school district says we have a safe plan, I’m telling you it’s not going to work. They have to feel comfortable which means they have to be part of the process we have to have a dialogue.”