Cuomo says NY colleges 'must' go to temporary remote learning if coronavirus cases spike

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that colleges in the state "must" transition to remote learning for two weeks if there is a sudden surge of COVID-19 cases on campus.

"If a college experiences 100 COVID cases or an outbreak equal to 5% of its population (whichever is less)—that college MUST go to remote learning for 2 weeks while the situation is evaluated," Cumo said in a tweet Thursday.

CUOMO AUTHORIZES NEW YORK SCHOOLS TO REOPEN AMID CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The sudden warning comes as college campuses around the U.S. have been scrambling to deal with coronavirus clusters linked, in some cases, to student housing, off-campus parties and packed bars just weeks into the fall semester.

Woman wearing a protective mask walks on the campus of Columbia University on Aug. 23, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)

Just this week, more than 100 students at the University of Southern California were placed under a mandatory two-week quarantine after officials say there was a rise in cases originating in off-campus housing.

Earlier this month, Notre Dame University temporarily suspended in-person classes for two weeks following a spike in cases. Likewise, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University abruptly ended in-person instruction, in some cases for the remainder fo the semester – following a spike of cases on campus.

The universities have served as test cases as the rest of the country grapples with how to reopen colleges amid a progression of the virus.

NEW YORK TEACHERS' UNIONS DEMAND 'IMMEDIATE CLOSURE' OF SCHOOLS OVER A SINGLE CORONAVIRUS CASE

However, in early August, Cuomo said that New York schools can bring children back to classrooms for the start of the school year, citing success in battling the coronavirus in the state that once was the U.S. heart of the pandemic.

The Democratic governor’s decision clears the way for schools to offer at least some days of in-person classes, alongside remote learning. Students will be required to wear masks throughout each school day.

“Everywhere in the state, every region is below the threshold that we established,” Cuomo told reporters at the time. He said New York can revisit the issue if the infection rate spikes.

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However, New York teachers’ unions have since argued that just one positive case of COVID-19 should prompt an “immediate closure."

On Thursday, Cuomo reported that the infection rate in New York hovered just below 1%.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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