Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday announced that schools will remain closed through the rest of the academic year.
“The decisions on the education system are obviously critically important,” the governor said.
Distance learning programs will continue, he said. Decisions on summer school will be made by the end of May, he said.
“No one can predict what the situation will be weeks from now,” he said. “Any decision on summer school will be made at end of month.”
Child care services for essential workers and meal programs will continue. Districts should begin developing plans for an eventual reopening that take into account safeguards. He said there has been no discussion yet on the next academic year.
School closings have continued to be extended since mid-March when the order was first announced. The latest date for possible reopening had been May 15. The high school spring sports season had already been canceled in Suffolk County in advance of the governor’s decision.
Mr. Cuomo had previously discussed reopening on a two-phase plan that would begin with construction and manufacturing jobs. He had said the second phase with remaining businesses would likely need to be tied to schools opening.
Questioned about that during Friday’s press conference, Mr. Cuomo said schools at this point are already near the end of the academic year.
“You can’t say, OK, everybody go back to work, but the schools are closed,” he said Friday. “It’s be very hard for part of the workforce to do that. But you’re at the end of the school year anyway here.”
He said the big question comes down to September and whether schools are ready to reopen and if not, the effect that would have on businesses reopening full scale.
He spoke of the challenges schools particularly face in terms of social distancing. A classroom with 30 students could not easily be changed to three classrooms of 10 students, for example.
“To say we’re going to figure out that plan in put in place in the next few weeks is virtually impossible,” he said.
There are 700 public school districts in the state with 4,800 schools and 2.59 million students, the governor said.