Last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that schools across the state would be allowed to reopen, which includes New York City, the largest public school system in the entire country.
Teachers’ unions in the state criticized the governor’s decision, saying schools should be prepared to close if even one person tests positive for COVID-19.
“Teachers are the last ones to be consulted on major life and death decisions,” New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said. “We cannot allow people to teach if they don’t feel safe — let’s make them feel safe.”
In New York’s 700 school districts, local politicians and superintendents will decide how to reopen. They will have to present a plan to the state’s education and health department in the coming weeks. New York is not alone in this battle. States across the country are struggling to come up with plans that will ensure a safe return to school in the fall. One of the challenges they face is a lack of funding. Public schools do not have the funds to safely reopen and keep up with the rising costs associated with the coronavirus pandemic because tax revenue has plummeted.
“This is a challenge for every big city and every small county in America right now,” Stringer said. “We need to look at science and medicine, not the hokey pokey stuff coming out of Washington.”
On Saturday, President Trump signed a series of executive actions for coronavirus economic relief. The actions deferred student loan payments until the end of the year, provided some eviction protections and extended the unemployment benefits for Americans to a reduced $400 a week. The actions, however, did not include any signs of relief for the nation’s schools.
Stringer said that Trump should “stop playing games” and come forward with a stimulus plan that meets the needs of educators across the country.
“We’ve got to now double down to make sure kids don’t get pushed aside because the government is incompetent and it’s not willing to listen,” Stringer said.
Valentina Caval is a producer at Yahoo Finance.