KEY POINTS

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo said regions must be in Phase 4 of reopening and an infection rate under 5% based on 14-day averages would be able to reopen schools
  • "We’re not going to use our children as guinea pigs," Cuomo said
  • A full announcement about school reopening is scheduled for the first week of August

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo shared details Monday about the state’s plan to reopen schools during his daily briefing. He cautioned the state will continue to take things slow, not wanting to put children at a greater risk of coronavirus exposure.

“We’re not going to use our children as guinea pigs,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo said the state’s reopening plane will serve as the baseline for where and if a school is able to reopen. The first qualification is any area looking to reopen schools must be in Phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan. Those areas must also maintain a daily infection rate under 5% based on 14-day averages. However if a region’s infection rate rises to 9% based on 7-day averages, schools cannot reopen.

As of Monday, New York has over 406,000 confirmed cases, and 32,029 reported deaths from coronavirus. Nine of New York’s 10 regions have entered Phase 4 of reopening, with New York City still in Phase 3.

An official decision about reopening will be made during the first week of August.

“We test more, we have more data than any state, look at the data. If you have the virus under control: reopen,” Cuomo said. “If you don’t have the virus under control then you can’t reopen, right? We’re not going to use our children as a litmus test and we’re not going to put our children in a place where their health is endangered, it’s that simple.”

If schools can reopen, classrooms will be modified based on guidelines established by local school districts. Local guidelines will need to comply with guidelines outlined by the state’s Department of Education.

One example is students will be required to wear masks if social distancing in class is not possible.

“Every child and person entering will be screened,” Cuomo said. “Tracing has to work in the schools. Cleaning and closure procedures. That’s all in the guidelines.”

Cuomo remains cautiously optimistic when it comes to New York’s reopening, citing the “low and stable” number of coronavirus cases. However, he continues pleading with New Yorkers to follow state and CDC guidelines to prevent a surge in cases like what has been seen in the South and West regions of the U.S.

“New York State continues to move forward combatting COVID-19 with its phased, data-driven reopening in the face of alarming increases in cases throughout the country and in the nationwide death rate,” Cuomo said in a press release Sunday.

“What's happening elsewhere in the United States is very concerning to us here at home, and our ability to avoid the same fate rests on New Yorkers' willingness to wear masks, socially distance and wash their hands, and local governments' willingness to enforce state guidelines. Today's numbers remain low and stable, but it is up to us to keep it that way. Being New York Tough isn't easy, but New Yorkers have shown the nation that we can effectively fight the virus when we all come together, and I urge them not to give up any ground now.”

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