ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) — Schools in New York will remain closed for the remainder of the school year. This includes both K-12 and colleges.
Across New York, schools were shut down in mid-March in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Students have not reported to school in Erie County since March 13th. Since then, many educators have turned to digital teaching methods. These methods will continue.
In terms of summer school, the future is uncertain. Gov. Cuomo says a decision will be made by the end of May. But Niagara Falls school superintendent Mark Laurrie said he doesn’t believe in-person summer school will be realistic.
“I don’t know why we would risk it for summer school,” Laurrie said.
Gov. Cuomo has asked schools to come up with plans to re-open, which would later be approved by the state. That being said, no decision has been made on whether or not schools will reopen for sure this fall. Laurrie says Niagara Falls school officials will look to expand their COVID committee as they develop their plan.
“I appreciate the fact that we now have three or four months to really hone this in with multiple solutions for September, which is going to be completely different than anything we’ve seen before,” said Laurrie, noting a return to school this fall isn’t even a sure thing.
“If they come back in September, it won’t be the way they came back in September of 2019, where everybody gets off the buss on day one and 24 kids go to a classroom.” Laurrie added.
In Buffalo, Dr. Kriner Cash, the superintendent of Buffalo Public Schools, said they have already been working on a plan to re-open. Now that Cuomo has shut down school for the rest of the academic year, Cash says those discussions can “pick up in earnest” now.
“We foresee some sort of remote learning continuing from now on,” Cash said. “We’ll never go back to just a brick and mortar delivery model of our program. We call it ‘from brick to click.'”
Cash says his schools can’t open until they have PPE, and proper testing and tracing in place. To that end, the superintendent revealed he has been in touch with Erie County about a plan to set up antibody testing at up to 10 schools, possibly beginning later this month.
However, finances could be an issue as the district looks to implement social distancing and safety policies.
“We’re going to have to take something away from the left side of the equation to put more into the right side of the equation for any of this to work,” Cash said. “It’s not very realistic that we’ll have enough resources to significantly reduce class size.”
The status of businesses is a different story, as New York State on PAUSE remains in effect through May 15. The Governor says a decision on changes to these regulations will be announced prior to that date.
Between Thursday and Friday morning, 289 more people died as a result of COVID-19. 22 of them were in nursing homes.
About 10,900 people are hospitalized because of it. Altogether, hospitals are seeing between 900 and 1,100 new cases of the virus each day, on average.
Cuomo says that number is still too high. On a more positive note though, the Governor says the actions of New Yorkers have helped mitigate the spread.
According to him, social distancing and other protective measures stopped roughly 100,000 people from being hospitalized.
Now, one of the major operations of the state is tracing the virus.
“The faster you trace, the better,” Cuomo said. But it’s not an easy task. Cuomo says the big challenge is the scale of the operation.
On Wednesday alone, 4,681 New Yorkers tested positive for COVID-19. That’s out of roughly 30,000 people being tested in the state every day.
Of the people who test positive, Cuomo says the state wants to know who they came into contact with. That includes finding out information about where the infected people live, where they work, and how they get from place to place.
Other biological factors like sex, age and health conditions also come in to play in helping New York trace the virus.
Last week, the Governor announced that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Johns Hopkins University are leading tracing efforts in the state.
So, with thousands of people testing positive for the virus on a daily basis, how will New York trace all of them? Gov. Cuomo says a “tracing army” must be assembled.
The state is working to recruit Department of Health employees from across the state. Additionally, Cuomo says they are looking to bring in other government employees as tracers if they are available.
Gov. Cuomo says nearly half of Americans say their mental health has been impacted. Three out of four say the pandemic has affected their sleep.
If you wish to utilize the state’s emotional support hotline at this time, call 1-844-863-9314. Additional mental health resources can be found here.
The Governor announced on Friday that the state is partnering with the Kate Spade New York Foundation and Crisis Text Line to provide frontline health care workers with 24/7 emotional support. Workers can text NYFRONTLINE to 741-741 to access this.
Frontline workers are also eligible for mental health services without co-pay.