'There has been no decision.' Gov. Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio send different messages on school closures
NEW YORK (AP) - Governor and mayor locked horns again Saturday, this time over whether school buildings in the nation's largest district would close for the rest of the year, with classes continuing online.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a news briefing that public school sites in the city's 1.1 million-student school district would shutter for the rest of the academic year to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Soon afterward, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at his own briefing that the decision was his to make.
“It is my legal authority in this situation, yes,” Cuomo said.
De Blasio, like Cuomo a Democrat, had said that it was not an easy decision to close school buildings in favor of online learning, but that "it is the right decision and it’s also a decision made a little clearer by the fact that the distance learning is working more and more every day.”
The goal, he said, is to reopen school sites by September, adding that high school graduates may have to go without a commencement ceremony.
But Cuomo said school closings would have to be coordinated with districts surrounding the city.
“So I understand the mayor’s position, which is he wants to close them until June, and we may do that, but we're going to do it in a coordinated sense with the other localities," Cuomo said. "It makes no sense for one locality to take an action that’s not coordinated with the others.”
When a reporter suggested that the mixed messages would confuse parents, Cuomo said, “We just clarified it. It’s not going to be decided in the next few days because we don’t know.”
Adding to the confusion, an email from the city to parents was issued while Cuomo spoke, advising of the extended school closing.
“NYC school students will continue with Remote Learning for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year,” it said.
The dispute was the latest bout in a long-running grudge match between the two elected officials, who have failed to maintain a united front in the face of a pandemic.
When de Blasio said last month that city residents should prepare for a “shelter-in-place” order, Cuomo countered that the city didn’t have the power to make such a declaration.
Days later, Cuomo announced a “New York state on pause” order directing nonessential businesses to close and telling people to stay 6 feet away from others when in public. The order sounded much like shelter-in-place, a term de Blasio has continued to use.
De Blasio spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein alluded to the earlier dispute on Twitter, saying Cuomo's reaction to de Blasio's school announcement was “reminiscent of how he reacted when the Mayor called for a shelter in place. We were right then and we’re right now.”
Cuomo addressed the school issue as he released numbers showing that 783 deaths from COVID-19 were recorded statewide on Friday, the fifth day in a row that the toll topped 700.
The new figures raised the number of coronavirus-related deaths in the state to 8,627.
“These are just incredible numbers depicting incredible loss and pain,” Cuomo said.
The governor, whose national profile has risen as his virus briefings have become must-see TV, said again Saturday that he is not interested in running for president.
When a reporter said some Democrats would prefer Cuomo to former Vice President Joe Biden as their party's presidential nominee, Cuomo said, "That is on one hand flattering. On the other hand, it is irrelevant.”
“I have no political agenda. Period,” he said. "I’m not running for president. I’m not running for vice president. I’m not running anywhere. I’m not going to Washington. I’m staying right here.”
De Blasio ran for the 2020 Democratic nomination but dropped out early in the race.
School buildings in New York City, the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic, have been closed since March 16. All school buildings in the state have been closed since March 18 following a Cuomo executive order.
GOV. CUOMO BRIEFING NOTES FOR 4/10
•Gov. Cuomo says it appears curve is flattening.
•Says the number of intubations are down.
•Governor says state officials are working with surrounding city suburbs and believes that the situation is stabilized.
•783 lives lost yesterday. Deaths are stabilizing, but stabilizing at a 'horrific rate.' 8,627 total deaths.
•The governor says this is just the end of the beginning phase of these measures.
•Governor says this is no time for politics. Says he has worked very closely with President Trump and the government is being efficient on getting NY what it needs.
•Gov. Cuomo says there are no political conspiracies on the timeline for businesses reopening. He says everything is based on data.
•Governor highlights different data from different models and emphasises that people's actions will ultimately determine what happens to the curve.
•"It's too soon for Monday quarterbacking. The game isn't even over yet," says Gov. Cuomo. Says we are in completely uncharted waters when it comes to a timeline for reopening businesses. "This game isn't over."
•Governor calls for more testing in a faster manner.
•Gov. Cuomo says more federal stimulus would be ideal, and it should be less 'pork barrel' than what has been passed. Asks federal government to repeal SALT. Calls SALT 'offensive.'
•Governor warns against 'troubling signs' that reopening too soon could lead to a second wave of infections. Says the state is putting together a team to examine the 'reopening experience' and potential of a second wave of infections. "Let's understand."
•"Our actions will literally determine life and death."
•"There has been no decision." Gov. Cuomo says city school closures are de Blasio's opinion, says further coordination needed on possible. city and statewide school closures.
•Gov. Cuomo says it is his legal authority to close schools in New York City.
•Governor says decision on schools will not come in the next few days and will be coordinated on a metropolitan. level, state level, business level and with New Jersey and Connecticut.
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