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State To Allow In-Person Special Education This Summer

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — After pressure from parents around the state, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order Friday evening that will allow necessary in-person special education to resume this summer.

School districts will be expected to follow all state and federal guidance. In the tweet announcing the order, he did not express what those guidelines would be. In the tweet, the governor implied that it would be up to each district to decide if it wanted to participate in programming. Staten Islanders have been pushing for special education programs to resume for a few months.

In April, Borough President James Oddo sent a letter to Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza asking the New York City Department of Education to set up programs for students with disabilities.

“I was talking to a lot of parents and what they’re seeing is, all of the sudden, school just stopped dead in its tracks,” said Deputy Director of Education Laura Timoney of the borough president’s office. “These are kids who go to school 12 months out of the year and this is their routine. They’ve known it since they were babies and it’s just, they don’t understand. You can’t tell them, ‘This is what’s going on, we have a pandemic…’ This population has not been considered in terms of what can we do for them … they’re not doing well in remote learning or tele-therapy.”

Other educational programs are not expected to open until Phase 4 of New York state’s reopening plan.

Previously, Cuomo gave permission for summer camps to open at the end of June. While other parts of the state have already entered Phase 2, New York City entered Phase 1 on Monday. Phase 4 is anticipated to begin sometime in July.

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