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Coronavirus Update: De Blasio, Cuomo Go Back-And-Forth On Decision To Close NYC Public Schools

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday continued their back-and-forth on the closing of New York City's public schools for the rest of the academic year.

On Saturday, de Blasio announced that schools would be closed. A few hours later, Cuomo said not so fast, because he wants that decision to be considered regionally.

The two continued to reiterate their positions Sunday, with de Blasio saying his decision was based on the health and safety of New York City residents, and Cuomo saying that because the workforce exists in multiple states, decisions like this are best made regionally.

"Yesterday, Chancellor Carranza and I talked about the painful reality that our schools would not be able to open up again for this school year. And we explained obviously why that was the right thing to do in terms of health and safety, why it was the right thing to do in terms of recognizing what would be possible academically with only a few weeks in person," de Blasio said Sunday.


De Blasio said the Department of Education continues to build out its remote learning program, along with private partners. The Department of Education has distributed roughly 175,000 devices to students to aid with remote learning, and are now shipping an additional 70,000 iPads.

De Blasio said he and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza made the decision Friday evening. He said Cuomo's office was notified of the decision Saturday morning.

WATCH: Mayor Bill de Blasio Gives Coronavirus Update

"It's as simple as this. This is something the chancellor and I had to do. We have to protect our children, our parents, our families, our educators. New York City public schools have to remain closed for the remainder of the school year," de Blasio. "The bottom line here is about health and safety, and it's about getting us out of this horrible phase we're in with widespread transmission and getting us safely to the next phase. And we have to be real smart, and I've said cautious, careful to not allow resurgence of this disease."

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

De Blasio said the apparent disconnect between his position and Cuomo's has to do with perspective.

"We are dealing with something that is different from pretty much anyplace else. I want to absolutely respect the fact the governor has an important, crucial role to play in a crisis, and particular powers in the crisis, for sure. And again, I think he's done a very good job. He has to think about the whole state, for sure. He has to think about coordinating with other states. But my responsibility is to the children of this city. My responsibility is to the parents of this city, to the educators who serve this city. That's my singular focus, and to me this is not about legal or jurisdictional questions, this is a moral question. How do we protect people best? The best way to protect people is to keep the schools closed," de Blasio said.

Watch: Gov. Andrew Cuomo Gives Coronavirus Update 

Cuomo said again Sunday that a coordinated, regional plan with New Jersey and Connecticut is one that will work best.

"We will do it in a coordinated, regional approach," Cuomo said. "We're not going to reopen any school until it is safe from public health point of view."

Cuomo said reopening "has to work in a coordinated plan with businesses."

"If you say that schools are closed through June, you're effectively saying that businesses are closed through June," Cuomo said. "June is a long way from now."

Cuomo said the regional approach is necessary because so many people work throughout the Tri-State Area.

"I understand the mayor's position. He represents New York City and the position of 'I think schools should be closed.' That's not an unreasonable position. He doesn't have to worry about Nassau, Suffolk. He doesn't have to worry about New Jersey, he doesn't have to worry about Connecticut. But I do," Cuomo said.

PHOTO GALLERY: A Look Inside NYC's Viral 'Warzone'

As far as the effectiveness of remote learning, and attendance?

"What we need to do now is really ensure parents are close allies with their teachers," de Blasio said. "No, we do not have an easy, traditional attendance measure. What we know so far is that there's nowhere near the participation that we'd like to see, but we expect that to change with each week."

"Attendance is being taken," Carranza said. "We've started a new way of collecting attendance... and grading and academic standards are still in effect."

Carranza said because not every student has a device, flexibility and patience are called for.

CBS2's Dave Carlin heard from some public school students on Sunday. They said any spat or confusion coming from political leaders only reminds them to remain adaptable and creative and work hard to get through the difficult circumstances the pandemic has created.

"We are going to have fun times with or without things going as planned," said Zoe Papaemanuel, class vice president at Tottenville High School.

Papaemanuel, of staten island, said she wants students focused on learning, graduating, and helping each other.

"We're going to get back to where we were and we're gonna move forward everything to be rescheduled. I, personally, have faith," she said.

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