All schools in the state were ordered Monday to remain closed until April 1.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the order, and said that the state will reassess whether to continue the closures and to continue to suspend the 180-day requirement. The order was issued to bring uniformity to all schools in the state.
“The single most effective way to slow the spread of this virus is to reduce close contacts, and that includes in our schools,” Cuomo said. “I am directing the closure of all schools throughout the state for two weeks as we continue working aggressively to ramp up testing, isolate those who are sick and mitigate the impacts of this virus. Every district will be required to submit a plan to ensure children of healthcare workers and first responders have access to child care so these closures do not strain our hospitals and that children who depend on school meal programs continue getting the support they need.”
School districts have to develop a plan for alternative instructional options, including distance learning; distribution and availability of meals; and daycare, with an emphasis on children of parents of first responders and healthcare workers. Those plans must be submitted to the State Education Department, who can amend or modify those plans in consultation with the State Department of Health and the Office of Children and Family Services at any time.
Downstate schools must submit a plan to the state for approval no later than midnight Monday.
He also signed an order to allow the state to increase hospital capacity to prepare for a potential influx of patients suffering from COVID-19.
The state will organize the National Guard and work with building unions and private developers to find existing facilities — such as dormitories and former nursing homes — that coulc most easily be converted to medical facilities, with the goal of creating an additional 9,000 beds. The governor also asked local governments, especially those in the most impacted areas, to help identify available facilities for this purpose. The State Department of Health is also suspending regulations to allow existing hospitals to increase space and capacity.
He has asked the Greater New York Hospital Association President Ken Raske and Northwell Health President Michael Dowling to lead a council to develop hospital surge capacity.