No in-classroom summer school sessions will take place throughout the state this summer, but a decision has yet to be made on day camps, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday. Distance learning will continue for those who need or choose to take summer classes across the state.
The risk is too great, Cuomo said May 21, in light of the newly-identified inflammatory illness in children that is widely considered related to the novel coronavirus, even though the COVID-19 infection rate has slowed. There were 246 new COVID cases reported, putting New York “lower than we were when this first started,” Cuomo said. Still, 105 New Yorkers died on May 20.
But, the New York State Department of Health is investigating 157 possible cases of the pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome, including three fatalities, one of them in Suffolk County. In one week, the number of states and countries that have also identified the pediatric illness has double, he said. As of Thursday, 13 countries, 25 states, and Washington, D.C. have reported cases.
“The more they look the more they are going to find,” Cuomo said. “When we are talking about schools, the facts have changed from the ‘experts’ because there are no experts . . .”
The inflammatory syndrome is more frightening than the COVID-related respiratory illness in some ways, he said.
On May 1, Cuomo closed all physical school and college buildings for the rest of the school year, but had put off a decision on summer school.
Meal programs and child care services for essential employees have and will continue.
In terms of opening schools in the fall, Cuomo said, it is too early to make that determination, as more information is needed about the pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome.
“As the facts keep changing, prudence dictates you don’t make a decision until it’s timely,” Cuomo said, “so you have the most recent facts to make the decision.”
The state will issue guidelines at the beginning of June for schools and colleges to prepare to open. Schools will have to submit plans to implement protective measures to the state for approval in July. Many sleepaway camps have already been nixed for summer 2020. When asked whether summer camps that operate only during the day will be allowed to open, Cuomo said that determination has yet to be made.
“Until we have this answer on this pediatric syndrome, as a parent — until I know how widespread this is — I would not send my children to day camp,” Cuomo said. “And if I won’t send my children to day camp, I wouldn’t ask anybody else to send their children to day camp. It’s that simple.”
State officials are looking again at the guidelines in place for daycare facilities, open to children of essential workers that could apply to day camps if the state health department feels it is safe in light of the increased cases of the inflammatory illness.
Contact tracing is getting off the ground, even with the infection rate falling. The governor preemptively warned that residents may see “New York State contract tracing” come up on their smartphones if contact tracers need to reach you.
“It will come on your phone,” Cuomo said. “You should answer that call. It’s not a hoax; it’s not a scam. It’s not a fraud.”
As regions around the state reopen, the governor issued a reminder that employers are responsible for employees with personal protective equipment to do their work safely. If you believe your employer is not following personal protective equiptment, hygiene, and social distancing guidelines, you may call the state coronavirus hotline at 1-888-364-3065 to report them.
Sales Tax Extension
The state is well aware that small businesses are hurting, even as upstate regions are in the midst of reopening.
“The number of small businesses that may not come back is really staggering,” Cuomo said.
To help, the state had extended the sales tax filing from March 20 to May 19, but it is now extending even further to June 22.
The governor reminded the public that state-run beaches open on Friday for Memorial Day weekend. On Long Island, Jones Beach, Sunken Meadow, Robert Moses, and Hither Hills in Montauk will be open from 6 AM to 9 PM. Swimming will only be allowed from 9 AM to 5 PM.
Among the rules at the beaches, parking will be limited to 50 percent of the lot’s regular capacity.
“I’m a Queens boy — it’s a ride to these beaches, and you don’t want to take that ride and find out the beaches are already closed,” Cuomo said. “With this pent-up demand, parking lots will reach capacity quickly.”