Students in kindergarten through 12th grade and college will not return to their schools in New York for the rest of the 2019-20 school year and will instead continue with distance learning to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, Governor Cuomo said Friday afternoon.
The announcement came as Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths continue a steady decline, but the state is still seeing nearly a thousand new cases a day, which Cuomo said was unacceptably high.
The decision affects 4.2 million students statewide in 700 public school districts, 89 SUNY and CUNY colleges, and 100 private colleges. In a recent letter to parents, West Hempstead School District Superintendent Daniel Rehman urged students to keep up with the district’s learning-from-home initiative.
“Let’s treat each day as an opportunity to work out our brain and become a better reader, writer and thinker,” Rehman said.
For the first time in weeks, the number of overnight deaths dropped below 300 from Thursday into Friday — from 306 to 289, a 5.5 percent decline. New hospitalizations were also down.
The governor said social distancing practices, as mandated by the state, have prevented an estimated 100,000 Covid-19 cases, which he said would have overrun the hospitals and caused many more deaths.
“Our past actions changed the past trajectory,” he said.
Today’s actions will determine “the number of sick tomorrow,” he said — hence the need to keep school buildings closed and continue social distancing.
The governor said colleges and school districts across New York must begin developing reopening plans, which must be approved by state officials. The governor added there was no determination yet whether there would be summer school. That announcement would be made in the coming weeks.
Of the virus, the governor said, “The enemy is on the run.”
Now, however, state officials must determine more precisely why the state is still seeing nearly a thousand new cases a day. So the state is drilling down, looking at new cases by county.
New York County (Manhattan) had the most new cases overnight, with 167, followed by Kings (Brooklyn), Bronx, Queens and Nassau counties.
Nassau had 97 new cases, or roughly 10 percent, of the statewide total.
The state is also now looking at who is becoming infected. The governor wondered if essential workers were, or if other people were. Where are they becoming infected? At work? On public transportation?
Those are the questions the state is seeking to answer, Cuomo said.
People should continue wearing their masks in public and keep up social distancing to protect others, he said.