Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new guidance for closing schools across New York State.

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On Monday, Cuomo said counties with an over 9 percent COVID-19 positivity rate can keep schools open if testing in schools shows they are below the community average.

"It is up to the local school district to make that decision," Cuomo said Monday during a COVID briefing. "My position has always been if the children are safer in the school than they are on the streets of the community, then children should be in school with testing in the schools. We are testing in the schools, so we know the positivity right in the schools. We know the positivity right in the community. If the schools are safer, then my opinion just an opinion, matter of fact, my opinion is leave the schools open."

The new guidance on schools is a reversal for Cuomo who previously said schools must close if a region goes above 9 percent. On Monday, Cuomo says the statewide positivity rate was 8.34 percent. The Mid-Hudson region's positivity rate is 8.2 percent.

New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta released the following statement regarding state guidance for schools in counties where the COVID-19 infection rate is more than 9 percent:

“Our number one priority continues to be the health and safety of students and educators, and that means it’s important to err on the side of caution. Testing data is important, but we believe school districts must still make decisions about in-person and remote instruction in consultation with parents and educators. The entire school community must have the confidence in a district’s plan to stay open, reopen or expand its in-person offerings as infection rates rise in the surrounding community and regions surpass a 9 percent infection rate. Where there isn’t confidence, remote education is the only viable option.”

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