New York City failed to file part of its school reopening plan with the state by Friday’s deadline, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.
About 650 out of 700 school districts in New York filed reopening plans on Friday, the governor said, adding that meeting the deadline was critical so that parents have ample time to consider the plans and ask questions.
“I’m disappointed that New York City didn’t have their plan on time because that's one of the main districts where there is a lot of discussion and dialogue,” Cuomo said. “And until there is a plan, people are not going to feel that there’s an informed dialogue and to have that whole process, have that discussion and get it done in two weeks is going to be hard. And if parents aren’t comfortable and confident they’re not going to send their child.”
However, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Education said Cuomo's comments are not accurate.
The city DOE submitted overall reopening plans to the state on Friday, including health and safety protocols and testing and tracing guidelines, according to the spokeswoman. The DOE also obtained an extension from the state for its school-specific plans.
Those plans, which outline how individual schools will adapt to the district's overall guidelines, are expected to be submitted within the approved extension period.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza have publicly outlined a blended learning approach to reopening schools in the next academic year, which includes a mix of in-person and remote learning for all grade levels.
School districts statewide were asked earlier this month to submit reopening plans to the state for the next academic year.
The governor will review them over the coming week and make individual decisions based the submitted plans and a formula related to COVID-19 testing data.
Cuomo said on Saturday that he set the July 31 deadline so that parents have time to review their district’s plan and start a dialogue with school administrators.
“That was the point of this reopening period. Parents get to ask questions, parents get to provoke the discussion,” the governor said. “This is not a dictatorial decision by the school district. This is a cooperative decision. It’s the parent’s choice to send their child. This is supposed to be more of a dialogue.”
Cuomo also raised concerns about certain school plans being too conceptual without including operational details, particularly with regard to testing and tracing protocols.
“The devil is in the details and parents are going to want to know the details,” he said. “How are you going to test the students? How many per day? How long will it take to turn around the tests and where are you going to get that testing capacity?”
The governor said any school testing and tracing program must be in addition to the municipality's existing testing capacity.
“Those are the vital questions and these are the questions parents are going to ask,” he said. “And if we don’t have answers for them, then they’re going to conclude we haven’t thought through the plan and not send their kids.”