New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Saturday that the city's schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year, but less than three hours later, Gov. Andrew Cuomo contradicted him, saying the mayor lacks the authority to make such a decision.
"He didn't close them, and he can't reopen," Cuomo said of the the vast school district that serves over 1.1 million students in 1,800 schools.
The governor said it was only the mayor's "opinion" to keep schools closed until fall, and that in this instance Cuomo holds the authority on the issue.
Cuomo said he wants to coordinate any such decision with surrounding school districts, and hopefully also with neighboring states.
De Blasio in announcing the continued schools closure earlier Saturday, said, "It's not an easy decision but it's the right decision."
"It clearly will help us save lives," the mayor said.
Immediately following the governor's later announcement on schools at his press conference, the mayor's press secretary tweeted, "The Governor's reaction to us keeping schools closed is reminiscent of how he reacted when the Mayor called for a shelter in place. We were right then and we're right now."
De Blasio said schools will reopen in September, and that to ensure all students can meanwhile participate fully in online education, the city will provide about 240,000 internet-enabled devices by the end of April to students who need them.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams expressed frustration with the bickering, writing on Twitter, "I don't have patience for petty back-and-forths in the middle of a deadly pandemic" and calling on Cuomo and de Blasio to "cut the crap."
The mayor and governor's squabble over schools echoes an earlier argument in mid-March after de Blasio suggested that a shelter-in-place order for the city was pending.
"Be prepared right now for the possibility of a shelter-in-place order," de Blasio said at a March 17 news conference. "The decision will be made in the next 48 hours."
But Cuomo poured water on de Blasio’s suggestion the following day, saying such a decision needed to be regional.
“It just can’t be New York City," the governor said. "I’m from Queens, and if you tell me to shelter in place, I’ll just go stay with my sister in Westchester (County) and have a good time.”
Two days later, on March 20, Cuomo issued an order shutting down all of the state’s nonessential businesses, a measure that now runs until April 29.