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Schools, colleges statewide to remain closed until end of academic year

Schools and colleges across New York state will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.

Schools will continue to provide distance learning during that time, Cuomo said, and also will be required to continue meal programs and childcare services for essential workers. The state will make a decision about summer school programming by the end of May.

Cuomo also is directing all schools and colleges to create reopening plans that reimagine school facilities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plans are expected to consider how schools can monitor the spread of the virus; how to reinforce student safety; when and how to resume extracurricular activities; protocols for special student populations; steps to ensure student mental health; alternative academic calendars; and more. All plans will be reviewed by the state before being approved.

The state will partner with the Kate Spade New York Foundation and Crisis Text Line to provide 24/7 emotional support service for frontline health care workers, officials said. And Cuomo said the state Department of Financial Services will require New York state-regulated health insurers to waive cost-sharing, including deductibles, copayments and coinsurance for in-network mental health services for the state’s frontline essential workers during COVID-19.

DFS also will issue an emergency regulation to prohibit insurers from imposing cost-sharing for telehealth and in-person mental health services rendered by in-network providers on an outpatient basis to frontline essential workers eligible to be tested at one of the state’s drive-through or walk-in COVID-19 testing sites. In Monroe County, the drive-through site is at Monroe Community College’s East Henrietta Road campus.

“It’s critical that we protect our students from this virus, and given the current circumstances we are in we do not think it is possible to put the necessary precautions in place that would allow us to reopen schools this academic year,” Cuomo said in a statement. “All schools and colleges will continue to provide distance learning, meal delivery and child care services for the remainder of the school year. And in the meantime, we want schools to start developing a plan to re-open with new protocols that incorporate everything that we are now doing in society and everything that we have learned from this pandemic. This has been a hardship on everyone, but our educators across the state have done a phenomenal job stepping up to make the best of this situation.”

Some 3,942 additional cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed statewide, bringing the total confirmed cases to 308,314. Monroe County accounts for nearly 1,500 of those cases and has had more than 110 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

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