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New York state will keep schools, colleges closed for rest of academic year

"We must protect our children," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "We must protect our students; we have to protect our educators."

All schools and colleges in New York state will remain closed for the rest of the academic year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference on Friday.

He said the decision was made to keep the state's millions of students and teachers safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

"The decisions on the education system are critically important," Cuomo said. "We must protect our children. We must protect our students; we have to protect our educators."

The state, which has more than 4 million students at public and private schools and colleges, switched to distance learning in mid-March.

Remote learning will continue at schools and colleges this school year, the governor said, adding that an announcement on summer school programs will be made at the end of May.

Schools need to begin developing a plan with safety measures for reopening in the fall, he said. Among issues he asked them to consider are how to prevent a spread of coronavirus and when extracurricular activities can restart.

Cuomo's announcement Friday comes after an apparent disagreement between him and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio last month on who has the power to close or reopen schools.

De Blasio announced on the morning of April 11 that New York City schools would remain closed the rest of the year.

A few hours later, Cuomo contradicted him, saying the mayor lacks the authority to make such a decision.

"He didn't close them, and he can't reopen," the governor said at the time, adding that he wanted to coordinate such a decision with surrounding school districts in New York state, and hopefully also with neighboring states.