Natalie Colarossi

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Roughly a month before classes are set to begin, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Department of Education submitted a 32-page plan for reopening the nation’s largest school system, but Gov. Cuomo says that a final decision on the matter will be made later this week.

“It’s about the parents being comfortable,” Cuomo said during a press conference. “Just because a school district says ‘we’re open’ does not mean students are going to go.”

The New York City DOE filed their plan on July 31 – the last possible day to do so – prompting Cuomo to express disappointment that the information was given to his team so late. 

Additionally, he expressed concern that the city’s reopening plan was not detailed enough to serve 1.1 million students.

To put it into perspective, Yonkers, a school district in New York state which serves only 27,000 students, submitted an 80-page reopening plan, Gothamist reported. Jim Malatra, an advisor to Cuomo, criticized the de Blasio administration’s submission by saying that it “looks like an outline, not a plan.”

But in a news conference on Friday, de Blasio ensured the public that “we’re ready to reopen schools the right way and to serve our kids.” 

The administration has maintained that schools will open safely in the city as long as the infection rate remains under 3%, and individual plans for every school in the five boroughs will be released to the public by August 14. 

The plan will include a mix of in-person instruction and remote learning, with the option of going fully remote for any students and families who wish to do so, de Blasio said. 

Additionally, face coverings will be required, and free priority testing will be given to all teachers and students in the school community. 

The plan also states that if two people in separate classrooms within a school test positive for the virus, the school would close for 24-hours and a test-and-trace investigation would be held. If the source of the virus proves inconclusive, the school would then shut down for 14 days while students and teachers are sent home to quarantine, New York Daily News reported.

“Our plan was submitted on time, and is the latest piece of information we’ve released to families and staff over the last several weeks,” Department of Education spokesperson Miranda Barbot stated in an email. “It answers complex questions for the nation’s largest school district, and applies to all of our schools with point by point details and specifics.”

Over the weekend, Cuomo stated that schools should prepare to reopen as of now, but that they will continue watching the infection rates throughout the state and make a final decision on which districts can reopen by August 7.

Roughly 50 out of 700 school districts throughout New York state failed to submit a reopening plan by the July 31 deadline, leading Cuomo to stress the importance in having a detailed response.

“Either it’s a safe plan or not a safe plan. That’s why getting these plans up in detail is important because if you don’t have the detail, all it’s going to do is generate more questions. And more questions is not a good thing right now,” he said. 

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