Governor Andrew Cuomo gave New York schools the green light on Friday to reopen classrooms in the fall.
Cuomo’s announcement ended weeks of speculation over whether New York City would follow others to delay in-person education – and as the number of new coronavirus cases continued to decline in a state that was once the country’s pandemic hotspot.
“We’re probably in the best situation in the country right now,” Cuomo said on a call with reporters. “If someone can open schools, we can open schools and that is true for all parts of the state. “
But Cuomo’s announcement likely won’t be the last word on this controversial issue. Teachers and parents continue to oppose the resumption of classroom instruction, especially in New York City, which has the country’s largest public school system with more than 1.1 million students.
“If the teachers don’t come back, you can’t really open the schools,” Cuomo said. “If parents don’t send their students, then you don’t really open schools.”
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Cuomo’s directive leaves it up to local politicians and superintendents to decide whether and how to reopen. And while Cuomo said schools could reopen if they are in an area where the average positive coronavirus test rate is less than 5%, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he didn’t would open schools in the city only if the rate was less than 3%.
Yet New York City education officials have already submitted a 32-page plan to reopen schools for approval to state health officials, according to media reports. Among other things, students must come back in teams to reduce the number of classrooms.
School districts in other cities such as Chicago scrapped plans to bring children back to classrooms in September and will rely on distance education instead.
New York on Friday reported 425,047 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 33,566 deaths. Most of the deaths occurred in the spring, when the pandemic hit the northeast the hardest. And the plague hit black and Latin communities particularly hard.
While the number of new cases in New York has been trending down lately, there has been an increase in new infections in neighboring states, according to the latest analysis from NBC News.
In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker has suspended plans to reopen his state, reduced the number of participants allowed at outdoor gatherings from 100 to 50 and cracked down on “bars disguised as restaurants.”
“Bars are closed in Massachusetts,” Baker said.
Meanwhile, the national death toll from COVID-19 rose above 160,000 on Thursday and the United States is closing in on 5 million confirmed cases – the most in the world. Most of the new cases have been in the south and the Sun Belt states, which began to reopen just as the coronavirus was starting to reach its peak.
Virginia recorded a one-day record of 2,105 cases on Friday, according to figures from NBC News.
Other national developments:
- The resumption of the pandemic appears to be faltering as the U.S. economy added 1.76 million jobs in July, up from 4.8 million jobs restored in June, according to the latest statistics from the Federal Labor Office. In addition, the unemployment rate fell from 11.1% to 10.2%. President Donald Trump quickly tweeted “Great Jobs Numbers!” But experts said the new figures were worrying. “We are seeing that the economic recovery is faltering,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at Glassdoor. “It’s not reversing, but it looks like growth is stabilizing.” More than 23 million jobs were lost when the pandemic struck, destroying the robust economy Trump inherited from the Obama administration. Some 16.3 million Americans are still out of work, according to the latest figures.
- New studies conducted this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have provided more evidence that wearing face masks can slow the spread of the coronavirus. “Cloth face covers are one of the most powerful weapons we have in slowing and stopping the spread of the virus – especially when used universally in a community setting,” said CDC chief Dr. Robert Redfield. “All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families and their communities.” Experts say the main reason for the recent increase in COVID-19 cases has been the refusal – mainly by tired young people in their 40s – to wear masks and practice social distancing. President Trump has helped politicize the issue by initially refusing to wear a mask in public. He was wearing one when he visited an Ohio factory on Thursday.
- Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has put some bite into the mask of state and social distancing requirements by warning that businesses, schools, children’s services and others could face fines of $ 2,000 or more if they don’t follow the rules. “As we visit and listen to mayors and health departments across our state, it is clear that there is even more need to get people to wear masks – especially to protect frontline workers, than they are on the front line of a store asking you to put on your mask or if they answer 911 calls to save those in distress, “Pritzker said in a statement.” These rules will help ensure that the minority of people who refuse to acting responsibly will not bring it back to our state. Pritzker’s announcement came a day after the state reported a sharp increase in new cases, mostly in rural and suburban areas that have been more resistant to wearing masks.
- The pandemic dimmed the lights on Broadway until at least January, leaving thousands of actors, stage directors and others without a means of making a living and dealing a heavy blow to an industry that has contributed to the last year to over $ 14.7 billion to New York’s economy. and supported 96,900 local jobs. “I watched the industry slowly disappear,” actor Arturo Luís Soria told NBC News. “I want to have hope, but my instinct is that the theater will be closed for longer than we think. “