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650 NY districts submit school reopening plans by Friday deadline, Cuomo says

New York City missed the state's deadline to

New York City missed the state's deadline to submit a plan for reopening schools, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said. Credit: Charles Eckert

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Saturday said about 650 of the state’s roughly 700 school districts submitted reopening plans by the Friday deadline, and he chided New York City for not being one of them.

The governor warned that schools must consult with parents in drawing up plans for possible in-person learning, because “if they don’t have confidence in the plan, I don’t care what the school district says. They’re not sending their kids back.”

He expressed disappointment in New York City, the largest district in the state and the nation, missing the deadline.

"That's one of the main districts where there is a lot of discussion and dialogue, and until there's a plan people are not going to feel there's an informed dialogue," he said.

Miranda Barbot, a public schools spokeswoman, said the plan was submitted "in time."

"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," Barbot said in an email.

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The state education department plans on Wednesday to release a list of other districts that have requested an extension for filing reopening surveys.

The governor said he would make a decision on school reopening in the coming week and “then we’ll watch to see what happens with the infection rate.”

Cuomo said on July 13 that schools in a particular region can reopen in September if 5% or fewer of coronavirus tests were coming back positive in that region by the first week of August and the infection rate did not rise to 9% or greater before the day school opens. The infection rate in most of the state has been hovering around 1% for weeks.

The governor said some school districts had not done enough to get input from parents, and, he added, "the burden is on the district to make the parents comfortable.”

Cuomo said reopening plans must be detailed or “you’ll open a school and have partial attendance, which will serve no one.”

On Long Island, several districts have publicly released their reopening plans, some calling for a full return to in-person instruction.

The Three Village school district said that “based on current regional transmission rates, task force and committee discussion,” they were recommending all students return to face-to-face instruction.

Other districts, such as Huntington and Sayville, said they would implement a hybrid model — a mix of in-person and remote learning. In those districts, the school day would be much different from what it was pre-pandemic, based on the plans. In Sayville, for example, lunch would be served in the classrooms and masks would be required if a student needs to move around the room.

Several districts emphasized consulting with parents and others in developing their plans.

Great Neck schools sought input from parents and guardians, administrators, faculty, staff, students, health professionals, law enforcement and board of education members, the district said in its plans.

Great Neck plans to have children pre-K through fifth grade return to in-person instruction, with a hybrid model for students in grades six through 12.

Cuomo cited the wave of infections at a Georgia sleepaway camp as a warning of how quickly the virus could spread among children.

Seventy-six percent of the 344 campers and staffers whose test results the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed were infected with the coronavirus, The New York Times reported Friday. The camp was closed.

The comments came during a telephone media briefing on COVID-19 that the governor gave exactly five months after the state reported its first coronavirus case.

Since then, 25,164 New Yorkers have died of COVID-19 complications, including 2,194 Nassau County residents and 1,997 people in Suffolk County, according to state data. New York City on Saturday reported 18,910 confirmed deaths, with another 4,626 considered probable COVID-19 fatalities.

Statewide, four more people died on Friday, a fraction of the nearly 800 people a day who were dying from the disease during the pandemic’s New York peak in early April.

There were 581 people hospitalized with COVID-19 and 147 in intensive care, both also fractions of the April numbers.

“That’s all great news,” the governor said.

On Friday, there were a record 82,737 coronavirus tests conducted — with 0.91% positive.

Nassau County on Friday also set a record for the number of people tested: 7,106, with 68 positive cases, or 0.96%, County Executive Laura Curran said in a statement Saturday.

Cuomo said that 41 businesses were cited Friday for violating measures aimed at controlling the spread of the coronavirus, such as social-distancing and mask-wearing rules. That was 4% of the 1,103 establishments that State Liquor Authority and state police task force employees visited in New York City and Long Island, the governor's office said later in a statement.

Three were in Nassau County, and two were in Suffolk County, Cuomo said. All of the rest were in New York City, with 27 in Manhattan. The liquor authority suspended seven liquor licenses Friday, all in New York City, he said.

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With Catherine Carrera and Matthew Chayes

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