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Gov. Cuomo undermines Mayor de Blasio, claims schools are ‘safe’ after NYC closes them

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) appeared to contradict New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday over school closures. He stated that in-person school learning was “safe” even during high transmission rates, just as NYC schools were shutting down once again. Less than 24 hours of warning was given to parents, teachers, and students who were affected by the mandate.

The two Democratic leaders seem to have different press conferences, different calculations for tracking the coronavirus, and different messages about whether the city’s public schools are closed for in-person learning amid rising COVID-19 rates.

“Medical research as well as the data from Northeastern states, from across the country, and from around the world make clear that in-person learning is safe when the appropriate protections are in place, even in communities with high transmission rates,” said Cuomo in a released statement, along with a number of other governors from New Jersey, Massachusetts, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

“In-person learning is the best possible scenario for children, especially those with special needs and from low-income families. There is also growing evidence that the more time children spend outside of school increases the risk of mental health harm and affects their ability to truly learn,” the statement read.

This revelation came just a day after Mayor de Blasio mandated that schools would close after the city’s 7-day test positivity rate hit 3%. De Blasio has set a metric of 3% for school closures as part of the partial re-opening plan in the fall. He is facing significant pressure from the powerful teachers union, which has threatened to strike.

The 3% rate that is dictating school closures has upset lawmakers, school officials, and parents. Many are arguing that the set rate is unnecessarily low. Even Cuomo has urged de Blasio to raise the threshold, citing lower infection rates in schools when compared to the city at large.

NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza stated as much this week when he emailed principals that testing in school had produced a 0.19% positivity rate, which he called a “reassuring sign that our schools are safe.”

The school closures have resulted in protests by parents at City Hall. At issue is the fact that de Blasio is closing public schools but is still allowing private schools to remain open.

De Blasio tweeted on Thursday that the city was trying to bring back in-person learning as soon as possible. But he’s also warned that it would come with even more stringent standards than were in place already.

“We all want to bring our schools back. We need to reset the equation to keep our schools safe. We are working on a new standard, including increased testing, to bring students and staff back safely,” he said.

De Blasio said Wednesday that the city needed to fight back against a “second wave” of the virus.

Last week, Cuomo reinstated restrictions on bars, restaurants, and gyms, effective Friday. However, these establishments currently remain open even as schools close, which is another disparity.

In the end, de Blasio and Cuomo seemed to land on the same page. Cuomo said state law overrides local law but he also said, “Mayor de Blasio set 3%. He hit 3% today. He closed the schools at 3%. That is totally within his prerogative.”

“When you look at the whole history of the coronavirus and the whole country, New York City and New York State have been amongst the most cautious, data-driven, science-driven entities, jurisdictions in the whole country,” de Blasio said.

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