New York public schools should start preparing plans to reopen this fall, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday it’s too early to know for sure whether that will happen.
The state will issue guidelines to schools at the beginning of June detailing what they need to do to reopen, and schools will be required to submit plans to the state for review, he said.
“The state will approve those plans in July all in preparation for an opening in September,” Cuomo said at a news briefing. “But we don’t want to make that decision until we have more facts.”
Health officials have said it’s still unclear to what degree the coronavirus affects kids, most of whom are asymptomatic, and what role young people play as potential spreaders of the virus.
Reopening schools is complicated by the discovery of a possible new Covid-19 complication in kids, multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children or MIS-C, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said could be caused by the coronavirus.
Further research into MIS-C is needed before a decision can be made about summer camps and schools in the fall, Cuomo said.
“Until we have an answer on this pediatric syndrome, as a parent, until I know how widespread this, I wouldn’t send my children to day camp,” he said. “And I if I won’t send my children to day camp, I wouldn’t ask anyone else to send their children to day camp.”
The discovery last month of the syndrome, which causes inflammation in various organs such as the heart, lungs, kidneys and brain, has cast doubt on initial studies early in the outbreak that showed the virus largely spared children. The syndrome remains rare and most young Covid-19 patients report just mild symptoms, according to the CDC. However, the virus can cause serious disease in children with at least three MIS-C pediatric fatalities in New York.
Last week, 7 countries and 17 states and Washington D.C. reported cases of the syndrome, Cuomo said. Since then, the number of countries reporting the syndrome has nearly doubled to 13 and the number of states now stands at 25 and D.C., Cuomo said. He added that New York state is investigating 157 cases of the syndrome. At least three kids have died from the disease, ranging from ages 5 to 18, Cuomo previously said.
“This inflammatory syndrome is more frightening than Covid respiratory illness in some ways because it inflames the heart,” Cuomo said. “We know it exists. We don’t know how widespread it is.”