Gov. Cuomo: School districts must work with parents on reopening plans

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ALBANY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Most school districts have submitted their reopening plans for learning in the fall, and now parents are getting a chance to review the plans and decide whether or not they want to send their children back to school. 

During his conference call Saturday, Governor Cuomo said he is worried that many parents may not send their children back to school because of their school district’s reopening plans. The governor realizes that it is ultimately the parents’ decision if their child goes back to school, and that’s why parents need to be involved in the reopening plans.

Governor Cuomo said, “This is not a dictatorial decision by the school district. This is a cooperative decision where it’s the parents’ choice, it’s not the school district’s choice. It’s the parents choice to send their child. So, this is supposed to be more of a dialogue that we are having now, and that’s why these plans are important.”

One of the more important questions that Governor Cuomo says school districts have to answer in their reopening plans is about COVID-19 testing. How often will students be tested? How will school districts get enough tests? How fast will the turn around times be on the tests? What happens if someone tests positive?

All of these questions need to be answered, and the governor says counties can’t just shift all of their testing efforts to schools. Counties still need to be testing the public at the rate they currently are. 

“The burden is on the district to make the parents comfortable,” Governor Cuomo said. “We will accomplish nothing if we open the schools, but a significant number of parents decide to keep their children home.”

Furthermore, Governor Cuomo said on Sunday that teachers may possibly strike if they do not feel the plans protect their health.

“If the union is not comfortable with the plan, I don’t know if it would have to come down to a strike, but if the union and teachers aren’t comfortable, they’re not going to show up, that’s a problem,” Governor Cuomo said during a conference call Sunday.

School districts need to have plans available for in-school, hybrid and remote learning. Governor Cuomo said on Saturday that school districts have to pay close attention to their remote learning plans, as there tends to be many inequalities with remote learning. 

Governor Cuomo said remote learning tends to work better in wealthier school districts and wealthier households, and school districts’ reopening plans must address how the school plans to bridge those gaps.

The governor plans make a decision on schools later this week based on infection rates. The governor’s decision is subject to change as the state continues to monitor the spread of COVID-19.

According to the governor, about 650 of 700 school districts have submitted their reopening plans.


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