ALBANY – New York has made no decision yet on whether schools will reopen for in-person learning this fall, but higher COVID-19 rates across the nation are reason for concern, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday.
New York has been among the states that have significantly lowered its death rate and number of COVID-19 cases as it has spiked in about two dozen states in recent weeks.
That has offered hope that New York schools could open their doors to students this fall for the first time since mid-March.
Cuomo said Sunday that New York is preparing to open schools in September, but stopped short of saying for sure it can be done safely.
And he offered a warning as the nation as a whole sees its coronavirus cases on the rise.
“Children have missed schools. Children have missed the interaction with other children as part of the socialization process. We’re preparing to open schools. We have plans to open schools,” Cuomo said on NBC’s Meet The Press.
But he cautioned it’s still too soon to provide a definitive decision, even as neighboring Connecticut and New Jersey outlined reopening plans in recent days.
The virus’ standing in the state could change in two months, Cuomo said, fearing other states could bring the virus to New York.
New York went from having as many as 800 deaths a day in April to just five on Saturday.
“You look back two months, and you see how many things have changed,” Cuomo continued. “I want to see what the infection rate is and what the disease is doing before we pull the trigger and make the decision.”
But he added: “If this continues across the country, kids are going to be home for a long time.”
Cuomo said May 21 that the state would release health and safety guidelines for schools in June, but that has yet to happen.
In July, the state’s roughly 700 school districts are expected to submit reopening plans to the state
The state Board of Regents, meanwhile, is working on its own guidelines for schools, but are not planning to release them until mid-July.
More: New York had lowest single-day death toll since March 15
More: New Jersey, Connecticut plan to reopen schools in fall, while New Yorkers wait for Cuomo
Joseph Spector is the New York state editor for the USA TODAY Network. He can be reached at JSPECTOR@Gannett.com or followed on Twitter: @GannettAlbany
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