Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that all New York schools will be able to reopen this fall, leaving the decision to reopen to local authorities.
Gov. Cuomo has approved the reopening of all schools in New York this fall. However, he is leaving the final decision to local officials. Cuomo argued that COVID-19 infection rates in every region of the state are low enough that the districts can begin to reopen next month, “which is just great news.”
In July, the governor said he will allow schools to reopen in a regional basis if the region was reporting a 14-day daily infection rate of 5% or lower. This has been achieved by all regions of New York, which used to be epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the US.
Starting classes in September
Gov. Cuomo’s decision was preliminary as classes are scheduled to reopen next month and each district still needs to submit their own plans to reopen, which are being reviewed by the state Health Department.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said: “We need to open schools. Three quarters of our families have said they want their kids back in school. They want that support. They want their kids to do better educationally than they can do remotely.”
Study says closure reduced Covid-19 cases, deaths
A new study, published in the medical journal JAMA, has suggested that school closures across the US from March to May might have led to fewer Covid-19 cases and prevented thousands of deaths.
According to the study, US states that closed schools earlier reported the largest declines in cases per week at the time, compared with states that were slowest to close schools and had the highest cumulative incidence of Covid-19.
The study was conducted by researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, the University of Cincinnati and the Pediatric Research in Inpatient Settings Network in Ohio.
The researchers said: “The analyses presented here suggest that the timing of school closure plays a role in the magnitude of changes associated with school closure.”
Using their findings to create estimates for the US population, they concluded that “school closure may have been associated with approximately 1.37 million fewer cases of COVID-19 over a 26-day period and 40,600 fewer deaths over a 16-day period.”
The researchers, however, pointed out that their findings can not necessarily apply to current discussions surrounding the reopening of schools since the conditions in the spring, when fewer people may have been wearing masks and social distancing, have changed.
They wrote: “It is unclear how COVID-19 spread would be affected if schools remained open while states enacted other policies to restrict movement.”
“It is possible school-related spread may be mitigated with infection-control interventions recommended by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, including frequent hand washing, universal mask policies, physical distancing measures, and increased sanitation procedures,” they explained.
University of Pittsburgh researchers Julie Donohue and Dr. Elizabeth Miller said: “The decision to reopen schools for in-person educational instruction during the fall of 2020 is among the greatest challenges that the US has faced in generations. The decision will have life-long implications for millions of children and their families.”
“In many parts of the country this has become a contentious issue, with children, their families, and teachers expressing strong opinions about what is best for them,” Donahue and Miller added.
They also argued: “There has rarely been a more important time for open discussion and collaboration with a goal of reaching consensus on reopening schools, while protecting the health and well-being of students and educators during the COVID-19 pandemic.”