NEW YORK - What the return to education in New York City will actually look like is still unknown as questions linger over whether schools can safely be reopened and Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration reiterates that it is in control of when schools and businesses are allowed to reopen.
Mayor Bill De Blasio says that the New York City Department of Education is working with teachers, staff, and unions to devise ways to allow group learning with low health risks to students, and says the city will be ready by September.
“Schools will be opening in September,” De Blasio said. “Each school will have a number that is the maximum number of kids that can be in that school with social distancing using every conceivable space in that school.”
However, in a statement, Dani Lever, the Communications Director for Governor Andrew Cuomo reiterated that any decisions about schools or businesses opening or closing will be made by the state government and not local government.
“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,” 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.”
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza has created a plan that calls for daily sanitization of entire schools, along with providing handwashing stations, sanitizers, and free masks, which will be mandatory, but admits that the state is ultimately in control.
“Every school district in New York State is in the thick of developing their reopening plans. We anticipate sometime this summer, they’re going to ask for the plan and we’re going to be ready,” Carranza said.
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Mayor De Blasio says that the Department of Education sent out surveys to parents to gauge their reactions to reopening and received over 400,000 responses.
“75 percent of our New York City public school parents want to send their kids back to school in September,” De Blasio said. "They feel ready now, so we're full steam ahead."
Cuomo and De Blasio have been at odds over the city’s public schools before, which originally closed on March 16 after complaints from parents, teachers, and unions as well as a threat from Cuomo to shut them down himself if they were not closed.
No deadline has been announced for the state’s decision.