New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced Friday that all schools in the state are authorized to open for in-person classes this fall, as the state appears to be solidly at the end of its COVID-19 crisis, Fox News reported.
"Every region is well below our COVID infection limit, therefore all school districts are authorized to open," Cuomo wrote on Twitter. "If the infection rate spikes, the guidance will change accordingly. School districts are required to submit plans to NYS for review."
The key statistic that allows for the reopening is the 14-day average infection rate, which needed to be at or below 5%. Cuomo said schools could be closed again if the infection rate rises above 9% on a seven-day average.
"We are probably in the best situation in the country right now," Cuomo said Friday, according to the New York Daily News. "If anybody can open schools, we can open schools and that's true for every region in the state."
New York schools were closed by an executive order on March 18, shortly before New York suffered the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the country with daily deaths peaking between 900 and 1,000 in April.
School districts have to submit plans for reopening to be approved by the state Board of Health. Hundreds of districts, including New York City, have already submitted plans, and many schools could be on hybrid plans combining in-person instruction with remote learning.
Coming up with the plans, and then getting them approved, could prove to be more complicated than slowing the spread of the virus, as local officials will have to balance the varying needs and concerns of parents and teachers, many of whom are fearful of teaching in or sending their children back into schools.
"They have to deal with their parents and teachers, which is going to be a more complicated issue than I think many of them appreciate," Cuomo said of school districts. "There is a significant amount of anxiety and concern."
The seven-day average of daily COVID-19 deaths in New York has dropped into the single digits, and the state has been seeing fewer than 1,000 new cases of the coronavirus each day since June.