New York schools, colleges closed for rest of academic year due to coronavirus, Cuomo says

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that his state’s schools and colleges will now remain closed for the rest of the academic year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The decision was made as New York reported an additional 954 coronavirus cases and 289 deaths.

“We must protect our children – every parent, every citizen feels that – we must protect our students, we have to protect our educators,” Cuomo said, adding that teachers are instructed to continue to provide distance learning and a decision on summer school will be made by the end of the month.

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Cuomo spoke as the sounds of horns from protesters that had gathered outside the state capitol building in Albany permeated into his daily briefing room. Unrest has been growing in New York as the governor has been reluctant to put a firm date on the calendar as to when the state can start reopening its economy.

Connecticut – a member of a coalition of northeast states who are coordinating their reopenings – recently announced that its own economy would start opening back up again on May 20, pending certain health and safety criteria are met.

“We are aware of what New Jersey is doing, what Connecticut is doing. We are trying to coordinate with those states,” Cuomo said when asked about the discrepancy. “I’ve said from day one, you will not have uniform policies across all the states, but knowing what other states are going to do, because as a state can have a significant effect on a neighboring state, knowing what they do is helpful. And then at the appropriate time we will make those decisions.”

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As for the protesters and their concerns, Cuomo said: “I hear them."

“I understand why people say ‘liberate New York, open everything up’. I understand why people say ‘close everything, you’re going to kill my children.’ I get the arguments,” Cuomo said. “And what I said is this is not a political decision, let's make a decision on the facts.”