Colleges are ‘canary in the coal mine’ for reopening schools, governor says

WWNY Colleges are ‘canary in the coal mine’ for reopening schools, governor says

ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - What’s happening with colleges across the country could foreshadow what happens when school districts reopen.

“I believe colleges are the canary in the coal mine,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.

This follows a COVID-19 outbreak at SUNY Oneonta over the weekend.

“School districts would be well advised to look at what’s happening in colleges,” the governor said.

The college has had 105 positive cases and canceled in-person education for two weeks. Students will continue to learn online.

“What we’re seeing with colleges, I think is going to be replicated on K-12,” Cuomo said.

While noting there are differences between colleges and school districts, “the basic dynamic is the same.”

“It’s inevitable that when you bring a concentration of people together, the viral transmission rate is going to go up,” he said.

The key, he said, is enforcement.

Even though all districts have compliance plans, “if they are not followed, you will see students come back, you will see students get infected, you will see the transmission rate go up, and then you will see schools close.”

He said with 700 districts in the state, it’s very likely something like that will happen.

What it comes down to, he said, is how well school administrators enforce compliance and what each school’s criteria are for shutting down and going to remote learning.

He said people shouldn’t be shocked when some schools will be forced to cancel some classes or go to remote learning altogether.

“That is going to happen,” he said.

The governor also said that what happened in Oneonta “has resonated across the country and I hope it resonates across the state and I hope private colleges heed the message.”

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