NY schools to stay closed for rest of academic year
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Schools in America's coronavirus epicentre of New York state will stay closed for the rest of the academic year, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.
The decision comes as the state remains cautious about reopening over fears that getting people back to work too soon could spark a surge of infections.
"We don't think it's possible to (open schools)... in a way that would keep our children and students and educators safe," Cuomo told reporters.
The confirmation came after Mayor Bill de Blasio said on April 11 that pupils would not return to New York City's 1,700 public schools this academic year.
The Big Apple is the United States' largest public school district, with 1.1 million students.
The city closed its public schools on March 15 as the deadly virus spread rapidly, pushing classes online and leaving families scrambling to arrange to homeschool.
Schools would normally end their final term in June. Cuomo said it was too early to rule on whether children could return for the next academic year in September.
He announced that 289 New Yorkers had died from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, pushing the state's confirmed death toll near 19,000, as infections continue to decline.
More than 700 people were dying a day at the peak of the state's outbreak in early-to-mid April. Cuomo said the number of hospitalizations was dropping every day and are currently in the 900s.
"That's still too high a number," he said. Several US states are starting to ease lockdown measures, including Texas on Friday, but New York's shutdown is due to run until at least May 15. Cuomo said he would announce a few days before that date whether he would prolong it.