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New York State Allows School Districts to Reopen for In-Person Learning

Once a global hotspot and the U.S. epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, New York state now has a virus transmission below the threshold necessary to reopen all schools for in-person education.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday that based on each region’s infection rate, schools across the state are allowed to open their doors this fall. However, decisions to reopen remain with local politicians and superintendents. Parents also may opt for virtual learning.

COVID-19 cases reportedly peaked in April, with over 8,000 residents testing positive for the new coronavirus. As of Sunday, only 476 positive cases were reported.

“Despite increasing infection rates across the country and in our region, we continue to see our numbers hold at low levels, all thanks to the hard work of New Yorkers to change their behavior and our data-driven, phased reopening,” Cuomo said. “While our numbers remain low and steady, this is not the time to get complacent. We must focus on protecting our hard-won progress now. Remember, wear your mask, socially distance and above all, stay New York tough.”

Meanwhile, Cuomo continues to call on school districts to submit their reopening plans. As of Monday, 107 school districts have yet to submit a plan for in-person education. Districts that fail to meet the upcoming Friday deadline, will be unable to provide in-person education this year. A press release issued by Cuomo’s office does not disclose if this means during the entire 2020-2021 school year or for the remainder of the current calendar year.

Related: COVID-19 Puts New York State Education Budget Increase in Peril
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Related: New York State Aims to Get School Buses Back to Work
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Related: Spiking COVID-19 Cases Don’t Deter Most Florida School Districts from Reopening

The state is continuing to review plans, and school districts that are out of compliance receive a letter from the state Department of Health naming the sections of their plans that are deficient. Those changes must be implemented by this Friday.

In addition, districts must also complete three to five public meetings with parents and teachers, and post plans online for remote learning, testing and tracing on their website by Aug. 21.

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