Individual district plans are still subject to approval by state officials

ALBANY — New York schools will be able to open this fall, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.

Cuomo said the infection rates due to COVID-19 are low enough so the districts can begin to reopen next month.

"By our infection rates, all school districts can open," Cuomo said on a conference call with reporters.

He said, every region can open, "which is just great news," adding that New York's infection rates are among the lowest in the nation.

Friday's decision is meant to be a preliminary one, as the first day of school is still a month away.

Each district had to submit their own plans to reopen that are being reviewed by the state Health Department.

"For planning purposes, they can reopen," he noted, saying the circumstances could change if infection rates rise.

Cuomo said on July 13 that schools would be reopened on a regional basis.

Regions that were in Phase 4 of the state's economic reopening and have a 14-day daily infection rate of 5% or lower would be given the initial all-clear to open schools.

But if a region's COVID-19 numbers worsen before Labor Day, Cuomo said they would not be allowed to reopen.

In any region with a seven-day infection average higher than 9%, buildings would have to stay closed.

Cuomo made it clear in an interview on MSNBC last Monday that he intended to be cautious with New York's decision.

"We're not going to reopen the schools in New York unless we know the viral infection is under control in that part of the state," he said then.