New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday that schools will open in September, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office reiterated that all decisions on such matters will be decided in Albany.
In his daily press conference, Mayor de Blasio revealed that he had set in motion plans to have NYC schools open in September “to have the maximum number of kids in our schools as we begin schools.”
De Blasio said that the city did a survey which some 400,000 responses, and that 75% of NYC public school parents expressed the desire that their children should return to school for the new school year in September.
The moyor admitted that the logistics of the return to school will require lots of planning to eliminate crowding and allow for proper social distancing and other safety related precautions.
“You’ll see daily deep cleanings to make sure the schools, top to bottom, are safe. You’re going to see constant use of face coverings,” De Blasio said, adding that they will be provided free of charge for anyone who needs them. “You’ll see social distancing…You’ll see a lot of features to make it easy for kids and adults in the school building to stay safe, hand washing.”
The mayor noted that these things are needed to instill confidence, and they will be preparing in the months ahead to be in close contact with the workers and the parents as the facilities are made ready for use.
The schools will be using every conceivable space, and will convert everything that can possibly be converted into a classroom will be converted in order to accommodate social distancing.
New York State Communications Director Danu Lever released a statement Thursday afternoon that state law governing all schools and businesses closings and openings are made by the state government and not the local government.
“Of course the state consults with local stakeholders and when it comes to opening schools in New York City we will consult with parents, teachers, health officials and local elected officials, the statement said. “But the Governor has said any determination is premature at this point and we will need to see how the virus develops.”
In addition, the Governor told all school districts to prepare plans and have them ready for review by the state in the event that schools are indeed ready to open in September. “The Governor…will make the determination once we have more current information.”
At the mayor’s news conference, NYC Schools Chancellor Richard said the NYC Board of Education was working very closely with the State Education Department and the Regents, but they have not yet required the submission of reopening plans. “Every school district in New York State is in the thick of developing the reopening plans,” the commissioner said. “We anticipate sometime this summer, they’re going to ask for the plan – we’re going to be ready to go.”
Yeshivos in New York City were happy to hear this welcome news. “It seems that the NYC public school system is on track to open, and that will be a great benefit for our mosdos as well,” Rabbi Aher Sabo, Menahel of Yeshiva Torah Vodaas Elementary School told Hamodia. “I assume it will include a resumption of the services we receive from the city, with the most pressing one at this time being bus transportation. Of course, we hope that special education services and therapy will resume as well, especially after so many months that our students did not have them. I sincerely hope that these services are included, which will facilitate a smoother transition to the functioning of our mosdos as well.”