As the president pushes to reopen schools around the nation, Governor Cuomo said they'll only open in New York if the novel coronavirus is contained.

What You Need To Know

  • Governor Cuomo said school districts can reopen if their region is in phase four and the positive rate of coronavirus tests is below five percent.

  • New York City's infection rate has hovered around 1-2 percent in recent weeks.

  • The city is in phase three, but is on track to hit phase four before the end of the summer.

"Everybody wants to reopen the schools. I want to reopen the schools. Everybody wants to reopen the schools. It's not do we reopen or not. You reopen if it is safe to reopen," Cuomo said. "We're not going to use our children as guinea pigs."

Cuomo said he'll decide the first week in August whether districts can reopen, based on certain criteria.

"Schools will reopen if that region is in phase four and the daily infection rate remains five percent or lower over a fourteen day average," he said.

Those are markers the city is on track to meet. The infection rate — the percentage of positive coronavirus tests —  has been hovering between one and two percent.

And the city is in phase three of its reopening, and on track to get to phase four before the start of the school year.

Cuomo's plan also includes benchmarks for closing schools back down.

"The safety valve, there's a floor. Schools will close if the regional infection rate is above nine percent on a seven day average," he said.

Districts are free to develop their own reopening plans, but they'll need to follow broad state guidelines. Those guidelines, outlined by Cuomo Monday, are similar to the reopening plans the city has already announced.

"We want masks and PPE whenever students or staff cannot maintain social distancing. Masks work, they work for children, they work for teachers," he said.

The state rules also call for six feet between students and dividing students into smaller groups to help maintain social distancing. Daily temperature checks will also be part of the new school year, though the guidelines say they can be conducted at home, before the school day.

"Every child and person entering will be screened. Tracing has to work in the schools. Cleaning and closure procedures, that's all in the guidelines," Cuomo.

A spokeswoman for New York City’s Education Department said they are constantly monitoring all health indicators and will require physical distancing, facial coverings and enhanced cleaning when school returns. She said they'll continue coordinating with the state on reopening plans.