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Tuesday, July 14, 2020
School opening guidelines released by New York State: Spike in virus numbers could eliminate in-school instruction
The NY State Education Department released guidance Monday detailing how New York’s 713 school districts can make plans to reopen. Schools could reopen in September in regions in Phase 4 with a COVID-19 infection rate under 5% over a 14-day average,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Schools will close if a region’s infection rate surges above 9% over a seven-day average starting Aug. 1.
Districts will not resume in-person instruction if the virus spikes between Aug. 1 and the first day of classes.
“Everyone wants to reopen schools — everyone,” Cuomo said. “How do you know it’s safe? You look at the data. If you have the virus under control, reopen. We’re not going to use our children as the litmus test and we’re not going to put our children in a place where their health is endangered.” A 5% infection rate indicates the virus is under control, Cuomo said.
Each district must submit plans to the state by July 31 detailing the social distancing, reduced capacity and other precautions administrators will implement to resume in-classroom instruction and reduce the virus spread. New York’s Health and Education departments devised guidelines with 20 education officials as part of the state’s Reimagine Education Advisory Council for the past several weeks, including procedures for transportation, food service, after-school care and extracurricular activities, masks/PPE for students and staff, cohort structures, student screenings and daily temperature checks, cleaning and school closures.
“Every child and person entering (a school) will be screened,” Cuomo said. “Contact tracing has to work in the schools — it’s all in the guidelines.”
Officials will determine if schools will reopen this fall in the first week of August, or by Aug. 7.
In the meantime, additional enforcement will begin in New York airports to ensure travelers self-quarantine from states with high coronavirus COVID-19 infection rates, Cuomo announced.