Gov. Andrew Cuomo slammed the brakes on the city’s announcement Saturday to keep schools shut down for the rest of the year, saying Mayor Bill de Blasio does not have the authority to do so.
“He didn’t close them and he can’t open them,” Cuomo declared two hours after de Blasio announced that schools would not reopen until September.
“It is my legal authority in this situation,” the governor added.
And any decision on the matter won’t be made soon.
“It’s not going to be decided in the next few days, because we don’t know,” Cuomo said during his daily briefing in Albany. “I can’t tell you what June is going to look like. I can’t tell you what May is going to look like.”
“But I can tell you it will be a metropolitan-wide decision,” he continued. “And it will be coordinated with the business decision.”
The move on March 15 to shutter school buildings as part of the effort to contain the coronavirus was made for the entire metropolitan region, Cuomo said. A few days later a similar decision was made for the rest of the state.
“This is not a snow day,” the governor quipped, maintaining that it makes no sense for the city to act alone.
De Blasio spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein quickly responded on Twitter, saying Cuomo’s reaction “is reminiscent of how he reacted when the mayor called for a shelter in place.”
“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,” she added.
Cuomo said he understood the mayor’s position, but it’s a bigger question than just the five boroughs.
“You can’t make the decision just within New York City, without coordinating that decision with the whole metro region.” Ideally, Cuomo said, the move to reopen will be coordinated with the county executives of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester and Rockland. It may even be coordinated with New Jersey and Connecticut.
The governor added that school reopening needs to be considered in the context of allowing businesses to reopen as well.
“I don’t understand how you would start businesses in May, but keep schools closed until June,” he said, referring to hints from de Blasio that some businesses may be allowed to reopen next month. That would leave many people trying to figure out what to do with their children, who won’t be able to be in school while their parents work.
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