Governor Cuomo pushes back at President Trump’s school opening tweets, saying it’s a state decision

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo.
(Photo via Flickr/Governor Andrew Cuomo)

By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech

Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed back against President Donald Trump on Wednesday for pressing elected officials to open schools this fall arguing that the federal government does not have the authority to make such a decision.

On Tuesday, President Trump pushed state and city leaders to open schools for in-person classes this autumn stating that some schools were keeping their doors closed not because of the coronavirus but for political reasons.

“They think it’s going to be good for them politically, so they keep the schools closed,” said President Trump during a White House discussion on school plans for the fall, according to the Associated Press. “No way. We’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools.”

Trump also took to Twitter to blast C.D.C issued guidelines for school reopenings to help mitigate the spread of the virus. The president then treated to cut off federal aid to schools that do not begin in-person classes this fall.

Cuomo argued that reopening schools was solely a state decision.

“This is getting a little old as far as I’m concerned,” Cuomo told reporters about Trump’s comments. “It is not up to the president of the United States… There is something called a constitution that guides government power.”

The state will issue school reopening guidelines by July 13 and school districts will then have until July 31 to submit plans on reopening for state approval. The state will then decide during the first week of August if those schools can reopen meaning that the state is already behind schedule on reopening schools. In May, Governor Cuomo said that the state would release school reopening guidelines last month and pledged to approve school district reopening plans by early July, according to Chalkbeat. 

The state plans to keep the August ‘drop dead date’ given how quickly new infection rates and coronavirus related factors can change. Even if the state approves districts’ reopening plans, that does not mean that schools will automatically be given the green light to reopen.

Governor Cuomo’s announcement comes hours after Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza introduced two potential blended models for learning this fall that would require fewer public school students to be in physical classrooms. The first model, would only allow 50% of students to be a school building for two days a week. The second model requires that schools only have a third of their students in school one day a week.

Cuomo said that New York City had yet to submit either model as a school reopening plan. Once the city does, the state will make a decision or request modifications to the plan and then make a “global decision” on school reopenings in early August.

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