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Who’s in charge here? De Blasio closes schools through June, Cuomo says that’s only ‘opinion’

Two schools were closed this morning in the Bronx, the Laboratory School of Finance and Technology and South Bronx Prep; a College Board School due to a student self confirmed with Coronavirus. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Two hours after Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City public schools would remain closed for the rest of the school year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo undermined the mayor’s decision, stating that no decision on schools has been made. 

During his daily coronavirus pandemic briefing in Albany, Cuomo said that de Blasio does not have the authority to close New York City schools and called it his “opinion.”

The governor said that that call would not be made within the next days and that he wanted to coordinate school reopenings with Long Island and Westchester County schools and, ideally, New Jersey and Connecticut. 

“It is my legal authority in this situation,” said Cuomo on Saturday. “That’s why when I closed them we closed them statewide.” 

The mayor’s press secretary, Freddi Goldstein, took to Twitter to refute the notion.

“The Governor’s reaction to us keeping schools closed is reminiscent of how he reacted when the Mayor called for a shelter in place,” Goldstein wrote in a tweet. “We were right then and we’re right now. Schools will remain closed, just like how we eventually-days later-moved to a shelter in place model.” 

According to NY1’s Jillian Jorgenson, the mayor spoke with the governor’s office before making his decision on schools. The Mayor’s office confirmed that report to amNewYork Metro.

At 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning, de Blasio announced that New York City to keep public schools would remain closed for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year. 

De Blasio, who initially resisted closing schools as the pandemic broke out, first made the decision to shutter the more than 1,800 public schools across the five boroughs on March 15 after mounting pressure from parents, instructors and lawmakers.

Shortly before de Blasio’s March 15 announcement, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that all schools would be closed during an interview on CNN.

At the time, de Blasio called the closure, scheduled through at least April 20, temporary, and said the city would reassess when to reopen.

But as the number of coronavirus cases in the city rose, de Blasio said Saturday, it quickly became clear that reopening in April was impossible.

With the closure now extended through the end of the current school year, in late June, teachers will continue to instruct students remotely with online classes in order to prevent the further spread of the novel coronavirus. 

The decision to keep New York City schools closed came five days after Governor Andrew Cuomo extended the New York state PAUSE order until April 29.

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