Republicans at the federal and state level are building pressure for a reopening of schools in September as New York, for now, is yet to make a decision on whether students and teachers will return to the buildings in about eight weeks' time.
At issue is balancing the health and safety of children, as well as educators and school staff, amid a coronavirus pandemic with the need to alleviate working parents and guardians of the demands of in-home instruction that has frustrated families since March.
Child care was lacking in the United States prior to the pandemic, and is a luxury that some families can't afford. The pandemic and resulting economic crisis has strained child care services as well.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday vowed to pressure governors to re-open schools. Not doing so would be for political purposes, he said.
“They think it’s going to be good for them politically so they keep the schools closed, no way," Trump said at the White House.
Assembly Republicans in New York, meanwhile, urged Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration and the State Education Department in a letter released Tuesday afternoon to develop a "comprehensive reopening plan" for schools in the state for this fall.
“School is more than a building for our students. It provides a safe environment for kids to not only receive an education, but also social interaction, specialized programs and food and health services,” said Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, a Republican who represents the suburban communities norht of Albany. “Since March, many parents have been trying to juggle teaching their children without any sort of educational background and working from home or trying to make ends meet. This has been an equally stressful time for students, parents and teachers – there is no doubt about it."
School districts have been tasked since May with developing their reopening plans, but Cuomo this week said that's no guarantee schools will reopen.
"We obviously would like to," Cuomo said during a news conference on Monday. "We want kids back in school for a number of reasons, but we're not going to send kids back to school until we know it's safe."