Gov. Cuomo announces plan on protocol to reopen schools in micro-clusters

Gov. Cuomo announced Friday a plan on testing protocol to reopen private and public schools in COVID-19 micro-clusters to reopen.
The proposal would require mass testing before a school reopens and then weekly surveillance testing of 25% of the school community, with free rapid test kits provided by the state. The schools will need to report those results to the state COVID-19 Report Card.
All people would be tested prior to a school reopening under the plan, with only those who tested negative allowed back in. The initial mass testing would be followed by weekly surveillance testing, which would be done at 25% and conducted at random.
Any school with more than nine positive tests would have to close again.
East Ramapo High School is in the red zone in Rockland County but has been given the green light to reopen in-person learning.
If they meet the requirement, schools can reopen as early as Monday, but students and faculty need to receive a negative test before entering the school.
For schools in the orange zone, like Kiryas Joel in Orange County, the superintendent says he is aiming to resume in-person learning as soon as possible.
Cuomo gave an update on the state's COVID-19 numbers, saying New York has an overall positivity rate of 1.5% - that takes into consideration a 2.75% rate in micro-cluster zones and a 1.38% rate elsewhere. The governor mentioned New York has the third-lowest seven-day state average in the nation, only behind Maine and Vermont.
"Our state had one of the highest infection rates in the nation, if not the globe, and we now have the third lowest in the country. We cannot become complacent and risk going backwards," Cuomo said.
Briefing notes:
  • Positivity in micro-clusters - 2.75%
  • Positivity without focus zones - 1.38%
  • Overall positivity - 1.5
  • State 7-day average with micro-clusters - 1.4 (third lowest in nation behind Maine and Vermont)
  • 12 New Yorkers died, 1,085 hospitalized, 243 in ICU
  • Micro-cluster zones: Schools want to be open in red and orange zones, state working to find ways to keep people safe but allow people in school. Agreement on protocol - before reopening a school would see teachers/students tested. Only negative results would be allowed back. Weekly surveillance testing would then be conducted, which would be 25% and at random. A school would have to close again after more than nine positive tests. State would provide free rapid test kits.
  • Cuomo called White House Task Force’s vaccine distribution plan with private distributors flawed and limited, would not provide for state to organize vaccination with state personnel on any scale. Says it could take 1 year to vaccinate the population using only private network. "Their fundamental plan, while simplistic is deeply flawed," says Cuomo.
  • Asked about NYC restaurants going to 50% indoor, said they are looking at numbers, no conclusions. 
  • Cuomo said the NYC BOE has not done a reasonably good job and calls early voting lines a problem. Cuomo says NYC BOE is not ready for the election, calls it a disservice to citizens. Says BOE has needed radical change for many years and that they should quickly give him a proposal.