What began as a big question mark Friday ended with an answer that many parents and teachers were hoping to hear, and with a little optimistic news on the side.
New York schools got the green light from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reopen this fall as state infection and transmission numbers remain low.
Good news and better news? We hope so.
The numbers bear out the governor’s decision.
Cuomo made the announcement that school districts, colleges and universities statewide can reopen this fall.
Last month, the state released guidance detailing schools could open in September for regions in Phase IV of reopening with a COVID-19 infection rate under 5% over a 14-day average. Schools will close if a region’s infection rate surges above 9% over a seven-day average since Aug. 1.
Each of the state’s 10 regions reported a consistent, low rate of 1.2% or lower of new COVID-19 cases last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. As always with the coronavirus, though, there is a caveat: If there is a spike in the infection rate or a matter of concern about the infection rate from schools, the state can revisit the reopening plan.
Of course, many parents and teachers remain concerned over a lack of guidance on procedures for closure, testing and contact tracing in the event of a positive COVID-19 case in a school. A school cannot reopen without the state Health Department’s go-ahead.
Based on the state’s infection rate, New York is in the best possible situation right now. If any state can open schools, it is New York. Every region is below the threshold established by health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If public confidence in school safety is lifted and the steps outlined by Gov. Cuomo and his team of experts are followed, New York state schools will be centers of activity once again.