New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday that every K-12 school in the state will be issued a daily Covid-19 report card disclosing testing and case data as well as how well it's implementing reopening plans before kids return to the classroom.
"I think this will give parents confidence, teachers confidence, they'll know on a day-to-day basis exactly what is happening. They won't be reliant on communication from the school district, from the principal, from anyone else," Cuomo said at a press briefing.
Parents will be able to search online for an array of information on state school districts, including how many positive cases they're reporting, the number of students on site, the percentage of students and staff testing positive as well as the number of tests administered by the school.
Cuomo said the New York State Department of Health will publicly report the information, which the local school districts, testing laboratories and local health departments will provide.
"If I'm going to make a decision to send my children back to school, I'm going to be darn sure that the plan is smart, they can do the plan and then I want to know if they're actually implementing the plan," Cuomo said. "It's a big undertaking — I thank the Department of Health in advance — but it's very important."
The announcement comes roughly a month after Cuomo initially gave 749 New York school districts the green light to return students to the classroom this fall — including the nation's largest school district, New York City — with modifications. However, Cuomo left it up to school officials to decide how they return kids in the fall, whether that is in person, online or a mix of both.
"If anybody can open schools, we can open schools. And that's true for every region in the state, period," he said on a call with reporters.
In August, he ordered all districts to submit detailed plans on how they plan to keep children and staff safe for in-person teaching and required school officials to host town hall meetings with staff and parents to discuss potential concerns.
Despite those plans, which are "only as good as their implementation," Cuomo said on Thursday that parents and teachers "are obviously concerned" about returning kids to class. He added that the districts will be required to publicly disclose their testing results through the department of health to "give teachers and parents some confidence that the plans are being implemented."
New York City public schools announced last week that it would delay the start of its school year for its more than 1.1 million students until Sept. 21 after striking an agreement with local labor unions, which asked for additional coronavirus safety measures.
Earlier on Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city had inspected more than 1,400 schools and found 96% of their classrooms passed ventilation system requirements.
New York has reported an infection rate of less than 1% for more than four weeks, though the Democratic governor warned on Tuesday that the state is now entering a "post-Labor Day phase" when the flu season threatens to complicate its Covid-19 response.
"There'll be more stress on the testing system," he said, noting that the state's labs that process Covid-19 tests also process influenza tests. "Flu symptoms are much like Covid symptoms. So people who are sneezing, people who are sniffling — it could be the flu, it could be Covid."