Surprisingly, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will allow schools in the state to open for in-person instruction in the fall. Many parents and teachers have asked for schools to remain closed through the fall due to concerns over the novel coronavirus. However, New York has had relatively low numbers of new cases of COVID in the months since it was the world’s hot spot for the virus.
Friday’s announcement ended speculation that has raged for over a month as to whether one of the most populous states in the US would have in-person instruction. Speaking on a call with reporters, Cuomo noted that “We are probably in the best situation in the country right now. If anybody can open schools, we can open schools and that’s true for every region in the state.”
Some Teachers and Parents Remain Unconvinced
Many parents and teachers still don’t feel as though it’s the right time to resume in-person instruction. Even if New York has low numbers of new cases, that’s largely due to smart social distancing and closures of certain high-population activities.
Children aren’t exactly known for their cleanliness or desire to be far from one another. As such, many parents and teachers are unconvinced that reopening schools is a good idea right now.
New York City alone has a school district that serves some 1.1 million students, making it the largest school district in the US. Schools in New York are crowded full of young people.
Even those who wear masks will find it hard to get more than six feet from all of their classmates. Video and pictures from some Georgia high schools have shown throngs of students crowding in hallways with no masks, upsetting many parents and teachers.
Cuomo’s Statement not a Command
Notably, the governor’s statement isn’t a demand that schools must reopen. Instead, it simply allows schools that think it’s safe to resume their in-person classes. Cuomo has stated that school will only be allowed to reopen in areas with a COVID positive test percent under 5.
However, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has made an even more strict requirement, saying only areas with less than three percent positive tests will be allowed to open their schools.
This fall will be a major test, as some parents and many politicians want schools to reopen so things can get back to “normal”. However, it’s likely that what we once knew as normal is unlikely to be a reality again for quite some time.