KEY POINTS

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed back at President Trump's apparent threat to "pressure" states and withhold federal school funding during his daily coronavirus briefing
  • Cuomo said he has been working with school administrators and educators to formulate possible reopening plans and will have an official announcement in August
  • Most of New York state has entered Phase 4 of reopening, while New York City was moving slower and was in Phase 3 of reopening

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo criticized President Donald Trump on Wednesday for the push to have schools reopen for the fall despite a surge in coronavirus cases. Cuomo's comments were sparked by Trump posting on Twitter that he would “pressure” states to reopen and threatened to hold public school funding if schools don’t reopen.

“School reopenings are a state decision. Period. That is the law, and that is the way we’re going to proceed. It’s not up to the President of the United States. The president does not have any authority to open schools. We will open the schools if it is safe to open the schools. Everybody wants the schools open," Cuomo said in a daily coronavirus briefing.

He then pointed to how closely tied schools are to the U.S. economy and how Trump’s latest push is similar to his push to reopen the economy.

“You can’t really reopen the economy fully if you have the schools closed,” Cuomo said. “The federal government has no legal authority when it comes to school openings. This is just a redux of what the president did on the economic reopening.”

Cuomo said he has been working with various school administrators and educators from across the state to formulate a possible school reopening plan. He said he’s hoping to have guidelines ready to share by July 13, which would allow local school districts to prepare their plans to submit for state review by the end of July.

An official announcement about a possible fall reopening for schools will be made between Aug. 1 and Aug. 7 after reviewing school plans and public health data.

“The test that I bring to all of these things, day camps, overnight camps, is my child test. I am not going to ask anyone to put their child in a situation that I would not put my child, and that’s how I make these decisions,” Cuomo said. “If it’s not safe for my child, it’s not safe for your child. So we’ll get that data and we’ll make that decision in August.”

Cuomo’s latest criticism comes days after he went after Trump for his overall handling of coronavirus. He said Trump trying to downplay its severity and refusing to wear a mask in public helped exacerbate the pandemic in the U.S.

“He wants to deny the COVID virus. He has from Day One. ‘Well, it’s just like the flu. Well, it’s going to be gone by Easter. It’s going to get warm and disappear like a miracle.’ He’s said all of these things and none of them were true,” Cuomo said on Monday.

New York, itself, has been in the process of reopening and most of the state began Phase 4 of reopening on Wednesday. Higher education, film and TV production, museums, zoos, and other low-risk arts and entertainment installations were given the green light to reopen. Professional sports can resume, as well, but without fans present.

New York City entered Phase 3 of reopening on Monday, allowing various salons and parlors to reopen. However, Mayor Bill de Blasio indefinitely pushed back reopening indoor dining after recent surges in states like Texas and Florida have been partially linked to reopening bars and restaurants.

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a March 27, 2020 file image, said 540 people had died in his state of 20 million inhabitants in the preceding 24 hours NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a March 27, 2020 file image, said 540 people had died in his state of 20 million inhabitants in the preceding 24 hours Photo: AFP / Bryan R. Smith