New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Friday all state schools would stay closed for the rest of the academic year due to the coronavirus pandemic, even as hospitalizations and the daily death toll fell to their lowest levels in more than a month.
Cuomo said he did not think schools were ready to reopen and ordered them to come up with a plan to keep their buildings clean and limit outbreaks, with a decision on whether children might attend summer classes by the end of this month.
The order, unveiled at a daily briefing on the coronavirus, includes the New York City public school system, the nation's largest, with more than one million students, and colleges.
Cuomo said just figuring out how to serve lunch in school cafeterias would require a mammoth effort that would have to be put together within weeks, at the risk of kids getting sick and carrying the virus home.
"To say, 'We're going to figure out that plan and put it in place in the next few weeks' is virtually impossible," Cuomo said. "We don't think it's possible to do that in a way that keeps our children safe."
Cuomo said he would make a decision by the end of this month on whether there would be school in the summer and that a decision on a possible reopening in the fall would come later, because "the fall is a long time away."
The Democratic governor said 289 people died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, on Thursday, down from 306 a day earlier. It was the lowest death toll since March 29. Hospitalizations also fell to their lowest level in more than one month.
"The enemy is on the run, the virus is reducing," Cuomo said.