School buildings across New York State will not reopen for summer school, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.
There will be no in-class teaching, as distance learning will continue for students attending summer school, Cuomo said during his daily briefing in New York City.
Meal programs and child care services for essential employees will continue, he added.
Cuomo has yet to make a decision on whether school buildings and college campuses will be able to open in 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 (and a) vaccine proceeds."
The state has identified 157 cases statewide of a Covid-19-related inflammatory syndrome in children that is similar to Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome. The illness is not respiratory in nature and has been found in 13 countries and 25 states in the United States, Cuomo said Thursday.
The governor ordered all schools in the state closed March 18, although school superintendents in Erie County had closed their schools March 16. Since then, teachers have been trying to educate students through a wide variety of online and distance-learning efforts, with students working on lessons at home.
The governor’s announcement on Thursday to keep instruction online for summer school did not come as a surprise to officials at area school districts.
“I think the governor made the right call,” said Kriner Cash, superintendent of Buffalo Public Schools.
Buffalo had been planning to go completely virtual for summer school, but was also working on a Plan B should the region start to open up later in the summer, Cash said.
“Plan B was a hybrid,” Cash said. “We were going to do a virtual program and pilot some student groups to come in some schools so we could get ready and get a jump on the fall. The governor said that won’t be happening, so we’re going to go the virtual approach.”
Cash has his staff working on a more robust summer school with a variety of program options so that it’s not just for those who need extra help in core subjects, but for those kids who can simply jump online for greater educational enrichment.
The Cleveland Hill School District also had been hoping it might be able to transition to in-class learning by mid-July if the region had progressed toward phase four of reopening, said Jon MacSwan, the district’s superintendent.
Regardless, the school district has been planning for a virtual summer school.
“We did anticipate it being virtual for at least the first part of summer school,” MacSwan said. “How it’s actually going to look, we don’t know, but we have been anticipating that.”
In fact, the district polled parents of elementary and middle school students to gauge interest in any form of summer school this year and received a strong response in favor of virtual summer learning, MacSwan added.
The state will issue guidelines for school districts in the beginning of June for what they will need to do to formulate a plan to prepare to reopen in September, Cuomo said.
Schools will be asked to provide the plans to the state in July and the state will either approve or not approve each district's plans in July, he said.
"But again, we don’t want to make that decision until we have more facts, and as the facts keep changing, prudence dictates that you don’t make a decision until it’s timely, so you have the most recent facts to make the decision," Cuomo said.
Western New York on Thursday entered its third day of phase one in the gradual reopening from the state's coronavirus shutdown order.
Seven of the state's 10 regions have reopened. New York City, Long Island and the Mid Hudson region have yet to start phase one of the four-phase reopening process.
Watch the first part of the governor's daily briefing from Thursday (before he took questions from reporters):