Summer school classes will be conducted only through distance learning to reduce the risk of spread of Covid-19, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Thursday.
Programs such as meals and child-care services for essential employees will remain in place. The governor said that school districts will be required to develop ways for students with disabilities to participate in study over the summer.
Districts have to develop a plan for students with disabilities who participate in extended summer school year programs to ensure they receive instruction. The state will make a determination on the fall semester and issue guidelines in June so schools and colleges can start to plan for a number of scenarios. K-12 schools and colleges will submit plans for approval to the state in July.
Many local parents of special-needs students have been growing frustrated over what they consider insufficient education and support for their children.
“As we focus on reopening, schools pose unique complications – they have high density and transportation issues causing a greater risk of spread unless protective measures are fully in place,” Cuomo said. “Now we have another issue that is complicating the situation even further with COVID-related illness in children. We are continuing to study this new illness and learn more, but for now summer school will remain closed for in-class teaching and will be conducted through distance learning this year.”
Regarding the question of whether schools will reopen in the fall, Cuomo said, “My position is I don’t have a position.”
The rise in an inflammatory disease linked to Covid-19 cases is complicating decisions about whether to reopen. New York is investigating 157 cases of the illness, including three deaths, he said, and 90% tested positive for COVID-19. Cases have been reported in 25 states and 13 countries, he said.
“In terms of opening up school for the fall, it’s still too early to make that determination,” Cuomo said. “We want to get more information on this inflammatory syndrome. We also want to see how the development for treatment or vaccine proceeds.”
Cuomo said the state will issue guidelines early next month “what schools would need to do to come up with a plan to prepare to open.”
Schools should be thinking about how their districts could maintain social distancing, he said. “Give us your plans by July,” he said, “and we’ll have to make a decision by September.”