Schools in New York state can fully reopen by September based on the current rate of COVID-19 positive numbers in the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday said.
The move would mean returning children and teachers to the classroom after more than a year of the pandemic's upheaval forced many to learn remotely, a circumstance that for many families was less than ideal.
“I think there’s no reason why every school shouldn’t be open in September," Cuomo said during a stop on Long Island to promote vaccinations. "The remote learning sounds fine and worked fine enough for some students. Some students paid a very heavy price."
The comments come as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier in the day said in an interview on MSNBC's Morning Joe that schools there will reopen in September without a remote option.
Remote learning has widened the education gap for many families during the COVID-19 pandemic, favoring wealthier homes in which parents have more oversight of their kids and access to technology.
Cuomo said the arrangement ultimately discriminated against poorer students.
“Remote learning sounds fine and worked fine enough for some students," Cuomo said, adding, “By no stretch of the imagination is remote learning a substitute for in-class participation."
Statewide, New York's COVID-19 rate continues to fall. It now stands at 0.90% over the last seven days on average. Cuomo also announced 44.1% of all New Yorkers have completed the COVID-19 vaccination series.
For now, no guidelines for fully reopening schools have been put in place. New York State United Teachers, an umbrella labor group, said in a statement the organization was supportive of reopening.
“Educators know that being in person is the best way for students to learn and for teachers to teach," said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. "We support offering full-time in-person instruction five days a week and await formal guidance for the fall on how districts, working with educators and parents, should craft their plans to bring all students back to the classroom.”