New York will keep all schools closed through at least April 14 as the state continues to battle the spread of the novel coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.
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ALBANY — New York will extend school closures until at least April 15 as the state continues to battle the spread of the novel coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.
During his daily briefing, Cuomo said keeping the schools closed is the prudent decision as the number of coronavirus cases continues to increase in New York.
Previously, Cuomo had shuttered schools until April 1. As that date crept closer, schools were left wondering if it would be extended or if they should prepare to return.
Now, that closure will be extended for another two weeks, at which time the state will reassess, he said.
“I believe the schools should remain closed," Cuomo said Friday at the Javits Center in Manhattan. "I don’t do this joyfully, but I think if you look at where we are and the number of cases increasing, it only makes sense.”
As of Friday morning, New York had more than 44,000 positive cases, an increase of more than 7,000 from the day before and more than half of the nation's total.
Locally, Monroe County announced six new cases Friday, bringing its total number of cases to 166. New data released by the Monroe County Department of Health released Friday morning shows that 33 people are hospitalized; 21 of those patients are in the ICU. Of the 166 cases, 14 people have recovered from the disease, an increase of 10 from Thursday's numbers. The health department also reports 423 people are in mandatory quarantine or isolation.
Ontario County Friday announced four new cases, bringing its total to 18, three of whom are hospitalized. Seventy people in Ontario County are quarantined or in isolation, and 186 people have tested negative. Wayne County announced one new case, up to nine in total, all being monitored by health officials.
Cuomo had initially resisted a statewide closure in early March, leaving it up to the state's roughly 700 school districts to decide for themselves whether to remain open or close.
But when nearly 80% of schools decided to close on their own, Cuomo shifted course, enacting a statewide closure for two weeks while requiring districts to craft plans for distance learning and distributing meals to students with free or reduced lunch.
On Friday, Cuomo said he intends to keep making a decision on school closures every two weeks, despite pressure from some corners to cancel school for the rest of the year.
Under the state's current projections, Cuomo said it's likely he will extend his closure order past April 15. But he wants to allow for the chance that school will reopen if there is a dramatic turnaround in the coronavirus spread.
"We've got all this data and these projections, but maybe God intervenes and does something special for us," Cuomo said on WAMC-FM.
Cuomo's order Friday will allow school districts to exempt the coming two weeks from the state's requirement that schools are in session for 180 days.
Under normal circumstances, schools must be open for 180 days of instruction in each year in order to receive their full share of state funding.
This year, that number will be reduced by the same number of school days as Cuomo's order remains in effect.
But budget troubles could still be on the horizon.
Cuomo has warned of coming cuts to state school funding as the state budgets for the fiscal year beginning Wednesday.
The governor and state lawmakers have to approve a spending plan by Tuesday. It promises to be radically different from the $176 billion budget Cuomo proposed in January, which would have increased education spending.
Cuomo's office has said the state is projecting a loss of $10 billion to $15 billion in revenue from the coronavirus crisis, and the governor was underwhelmed by $5 billion coming to the state government as part of the federal COVID-19 stimulus.
“All they did was cut the education budget to the state of New York, which is a tragedy,” Cuomo said.
The Alliance for Quality Education, a labor-backed organization that pushes for school funding, issued a statement Friday criticizing Cuomo's comments. Instead, the group called on him to tax the wealthy in order to fund schools.
"While Governor Cuomo is filling news cycles with his response to the COVID-19 crisis, he is preparing a state budget that would devastate educational opportunities for the children of New York," said Jasmine Gripper, the alliance's executive director. "When it comes to our children and their education, Governor Cuomo has a heart of stone."