Coronavirus in New York: No Statewide School Closures—Yet
New York will not mandate statewide school closures as the country grapples with the spread of the coronavirus. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference on Friday that the decision to close schools will be left to individual districts, except in the case where a child in the school has tested positive.
"The closing of schools is a very difficult decision, a very complicated decision," Cuomo said, noting the challenges faced by working parents in finding childcare or feeding children who depend on free or reduced school lunch.
The state will continue to monitor COVID-19's impact and may explore closing schools statewide in the future, but they weren't considering it as of Friday, Cuomo said. The only required school closures will be at those schools where a child has tested positive for the novel coronavirus and must close for 24 hours or longer depending on the guidance of the New York State Department of Health.
Five states in the country have announced statewide school closures thus far: Maryland, Ohio, Kentucky, New Mexico and Michigan.
New York now has the highest number of positive coronavirus cases with 421 as of Friday, Cuomo said. Of these cases, 50 are hospitalized and 18 are in the intensive care units. Cuomo said his focus
"When I spoke over the past few days, I've been talking about watching the hospitalization rate and, in particular, the rate of people needing the ICU, this is where Italy got into trouble," Cuomo said. "That is going to be a problem in this state and this country and that's something that we need to watch very, very carefully."