Governor Cuomo announced that schools will open for the 2020-2021 school year as scheduled, because the state is below the targeted infection rate.

Governor Cuomo said the management of the virus has been successful, and "if anyone can open (their schools) we can do it." Cuomo said New York's reopening guidance is being touted as the best in the country.

Schools have been closed in New York since March, when they were shut down to the slow the spread of COVID-19. Since then, districts have been waiting for guidance from the Governor and the New York State Education Department to determine whether in-person instruction would be allowed to happen in September.

School districts in Central New York completed their reopening plans and submitted them to the New York State Education by the July 31st deadline, but the final call as to whether schools reopen ultimately rested with Governor Cuomo. Each district was responsible for submitting plans for all in-person, all virtual, and hybrid instruction.

In a conference call with the press, Cuomo reported almost "every school district has submitted plans to the State Education Department, and the NYS Department of Health." Cuomo says the Department of Health can still disapprove plans from individual districts. He said the DOH will notify districts if their plans are incomplete or insufficient today and Monday.

Cuomo directed each district to work with their parents and their teachers to assuage anxieties and concerns. He says all districts must do two things:

  • Post their remote learning plan online, and how they will execute that plan, and their plan and policies around testing and screening for COVID-19, along with plans for how a district will handle contact tracing for a student that tests positive.
  • Have at least 3 discussion sessions with parents - online or otherwise - to answer questions between now and August 21. Cuomo emphasized the need to give parents the opportunity to ask questions, and the need for dialogue. At least one discussion must be scheduled for just for teachers and administrators.
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"Schools in a region can reopen if that region is in Phase IV of reopening and if its daily infection rate remains below 5 percent or lower using a 14-day average since unPAUSE was lifted. Schools will close if the regional infection rate rises above 9 percent, using a 7-day average, after August 1," the Governor announced previously.

Districts must still comply with the guidance NYSED and NYS Department of Health.