New York state used to be the COVID-19 epicenter of the country. On Friday, its governor made a big announcement that shows how things have changed. "All schools can open," said Andrew Cuomo, per the New York Times. "If anyone can open schools, we can open schools. We have the best infection rate in the country." That doesn't mean all schools can or must reopen—only schools in regions where the average rate of positive coronavirus tests is under 5% will be able to do so, and superintendents and local politicians can make decisions for their districts. Districts that decide to open must submit a plan to be approved by the state's health and education departments. CNN notes that of the state's nearly 750 school districts, 129 haven't yet submitted one. Per amNewYork, 50 or so already submitted plans have been deemed unsatisfactory and must be reworked.
Cuomo also indicated Friday that plans can be modified if infection rates spike before school kicks off around the state at the end of August or early September. Of particular interest to other districts around the US is New York City, the nation's largest school system, with 1,800 schools and 1.1 million students. Right now, the NYC system plans to offer a hybrid model, where kids will split their time between on-site instruction and remote learning; a final decision hasn't been made by Mayor Bill de Blasio on whether schools will open. Cuomo conceded the push-and-pull on this decision has been a slog: Teachers, union officials, and some parents fear reopening is a bad idea on the health front, while many parents have expressed concern on how they'll handle child care if schools don't open, as well as worries on kids not doing well academically with distance learning. (Read more Andrew Cuomo stories.)