Jul 13, 2020 - Health

Cuomo: New York will use formula to determine if it's safe to reopen schools

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that schools will only reopen if they meet scientific criteria that show the coronavirus is under control in their region, including a daily infection rate of below 5% over a 14-day average. "We're not going to use our children as guinea pigs," he added.

The big picture: Cuomo's insistence that New York will rely on data to decide whether to reopen schools comes as President Trump and his administration continue an aggressive push to get kids back in the classroom as part of their efforts to juice the economy.

  • Trump attacked the CDC's guidelines on reopening schools safely last week as "very tough and expensive," while Education Secretary Betsy DeVos stressed on Sunday that the guidelines are "flexible" and only meant to be recommendations.
  • DeVos also doubled down on threats to withhold federal funding from schools that choose not to reopen, arguing that the money should be redirected to families who can use it to find another option for their children.

What Cuomo is saying:

  • "On schools, what does [Trump] say? 'Reopen the schools. Just open them up, don't worry.' He was wrong on the economic reopening. He's wrong on the schools reopening."
  • "Everybody wants to reopen the schools. ... It's not, do we reopen or not? You reopen if it is safe to reopen. How do you know if it's safe? You look at the data."
  • "If you have the virus under control, reopen. If you don't have the virus under control, then you can’t reopen. We're not gonna use our children as a litmus test and we're not going to put our children in a place where their health is endangered. It's that simple."

Details: Cuomo that schools can only begin in-person learning once the region has entered "Phase 4" of its reopening plan.

  • Decisions on which districts will be allowed to reopen will be made during the first week in August.
  • If a region's infection rate is above 9% on a seven-day average after that first week, Cuomo said reopenings will be paused.

Go deeper: Pelosi says Trump is "messing with the health of our children" with push to open schools

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