Schools across New York state will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov.Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday.
The order, which applies to 4.2 million students statewide, continues a shutdown order that was set to expire May 15.
Distance learning, meal programs, and childcare services for essential workers will still continue.
Rochester Board of Education President Van White says that while closing schools for the rest of the school year is difficult, he believes the governor made a wise decision in order to keep children and families safe from contracting the virus.
“You can’t practice proper distance, social distancing in schools,” White said. “I heard someone talking about desks 6 feet apart.In most urban centers, that is just not possible.”
In a letter to staff and families, Deputy Superintendent Lynda Quick said that pack-and-go meals for students will continue to be served at 12 school sites and nine city R-centers. Educational activity packets will also continue to be delivered to meal sites.
While schools remain shut, White says that the district will continue to improve remote learning.
“We have often struggled particularly in urban communities with losing progress over the summers,” he said. “This allows us to figure out how we can do this 24 hours a day seven days a week year-round.”
The state will make a decision about summer school by the end of May, but White is uncertain of what all of this will mean for the following school year.
“I don’t know what will happen in September,” he said. “I do know this, that our ability to teach children through distance technology will have improved significantly, whether the students are in the classroom or not.”
That echoes a sentiment nationwide, where schools are evaluating whether they will keep schools closed, and even continue remote learning in the fall.