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State still studying whether to reopen schools in September

State still studying whether to reopen schools in September

Understanding of COVID-19 virus and status of pandemic are still evolving, Cuomo says
State still studying whether to reopen schools in September
Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently
Photographer: Governor's Office

ALBANY — The state has not decided whether public schools will hold classes on site and in person this autumn.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo provided the update Monday during a COVID-19 press conference. There also is no decision on when casinos and movie theaters will be allowed reopen, he added.

The governor did provide some finality on the New York State Fair: It’s canceled this year, as he said weeks ago it probably would be.

The non-announcement on schools wouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has been following the issue. Colds and flu can spread easily in a classroom full of young children in the best of circumstances; Cuomo and state health officials are looking for a way to keep COVID from doing the same, while adjusting to changing scientific knowledge about the virus and an evolving situation in other states.

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“We obviously very much would like to,” Cuomo said. “Nobody even knows the effect that this is going to have on students, socialization of young students, et cetera. We want kids back in school for a number of reasons, but we're not going to say children should go back to school until we know it's safe. We have some time.”

New York is recovering well, the governor said, with significant and sustained progress since he began easing restrictions and allowing regional reopening on May 15.

Asked about calls to revoke the governor's emergency powers to shut down the economy and issue other rules, he said it was a “stupid” idea. Every protective measure (face masks, social distancing, business closures, free testing and care for COVID patients) would suddenly end, he said. It’s also an “unnecessarily stupid” idea, he said, because the state Legislature can override any and all of his orders.

The emergency powers the Legislature granted to Cuomo expire in April 2021.

Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, said the good government groups calling for an end to Cuomo’s emergency powers are “incredibly ignorant” and have no expertise in global pandemics. Had emergency executive powers not been in place, many more New Yorkers would have died, she said.

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