Press battles Trump over schools

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced a plan to get students back to the classroom this fall, saying schools can only begin in-person learning once the region has entered “Phase 4” of its reopening.

During a press conference Monday, Cuomo announced the state’s plan, which states that schools are able to reopen only if the region it is located in has reached its final phase of reopening. Cuomo also said the daily infection rate in that region needed to remain at 5 percent or lower over a 14-day average.

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“If you have the virus under control, reopen. If you don’t have the virus under control, then you can’t reopen,” Cuomo said.

“We’re not going to use our children as the litmus test,” Cuomo continued. “And we’re not going to put our children in a place where their health is endangered.”

He added: “It’s that simple.”

Cuomo said “Common sense and intelligence can still determine what we do even in this crazy environment.

“We’re not going to use our children as guinea pigs,” he said. “I say to the experts, ‘It’s very simple. If I’m making the determination as to whether or not I would send my daughter to school. If it’s safe, I’ll send her. If it’s not safe, I’m not going to send her.’”

Cuomo added: “You can determine that by science.

“So the formula is this: schools will reopen if that region is in Phase 4 and the daily infection rate remains 5 percent or lower over a 14 day average. Okay?” Cuomo said.

At this point, all regions, except for New York City, have reached their Phase 4 reopening. New York City is still in Phase 3.

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Cuomo said that his administration will make the determination in the first week of August. He said they will monitor all numbers between the time the decision to reopen a school is made and the first day of school, while warning that if an infection rate in the region goes over 9 percent on a seven-day average, the decision to reopen schools will likely be reversed.

Cuomo noted that should a region report a daily infection rate of over 9 percent, they will “hit an emergency stop button.”

“Once you get a green light to reopen, then how you reopen, you follow the guidelines,” Cuomo said. “And we leave it to the 700 school districts across the state to come up with the specific plan pursuant to those guidelines.”

Cuomo added that the State Department of Education would release education guidelines which will incorporate New York State health guidelines.

Meanwhile, Cuomo went on to slam President Trump, who has threatened to put “pressure” on governors to reopen schools across the nation for in-person learning this fall, and threatened to cut federal funding for schools that will instead offer remote-learning amid the pandemic.

“He was wrong on the economic reopening,” Cuomo said. “He’s wrong on the schools reopening. Everybody wants to reopen the schools. I want to reopen the schools.”

He added: “You reopen if it is safe to reopen. How do you know if it is safe? You look at the data. You don’t hold your finger up and feel the wind. You don’t have an inspiration. You don’t have a dream. You don’t have an emotion. Look at the data.”

Cuomo last week said he would determine in the first week of August whether schools across the state can reopen this fall, and asked that school districts and local governments “submit a plan” that would be reviewed.

Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio rolled out his proposed plan for the 1.1 million New York City public school students come September.

De Blasio said that students will instead learn on a “blended” schedule and be limited to a maximum of three days in the classroom, while engaging in remote learning for the remainder of the week.

The mayor rolled out a “blended learning” plan for New York City Public Schools this fall, noting that at some points in the week, students will physically be in the classroom, and at some points will be learning remotely.

“Blended,” according to city officials, means that students will attend school for part of the week and learn remotely for other parts of the week. Students are expected to return for a “blended” learning school year in September, but the de Blasio administration noted that families can choose a “fully remote learning model” if they do not feel comfortable sending their children to the classroom.

The de Blasio administration also said that they would send “schedules” to families in August so that parents “will know which days the students are expected in person.”

Classrooms will only hold between nine and 12 students for in-person learning, city officials said Wednesday, while noting that the schools will be working on additional models to determine if some students need more in-person learning than others.

“We’re going to move heaven and earth to be ready for September,” de Blasio said.

Cuomo, though, ultimately will determine whether de Blasio’s plans for New York City schools will be sufficient for a safe reopening for the 2020-2021 school year.

Fox News’ Tara Prindiville contributed to this report. 

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