Even the coronavirus pandemic couldn’t stop Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio from squaring off in a petty — and very public — schoolyard brawl on Saturday, with Hizzoner announcing city schools would stay closed until the fall, only to be undercut by Albany two hours later.
“There has been no decision on schools,” Cuomo declared at an upstate press briefing, dismissing the mayor’s morning announcement affecting 1.1 million students as a mere “opinion.”
“He didn’t close them, and he can’t open them,” Cuomo said.
A few hours earlier in City Hall, de Blasio said he made the decision after speaking the night before with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious-disease expert on the White House’s coronavirus task force.
“He was so clear about how important keeping the schools closed would be in our overall strategy,” the mayor said. “It will help us to save lives.”
By Saturday evening, de Blasio was digging in his heels.
“My responsibility is not to another elected official,” he said on MSNBC’s “PoliticsNation.” “My responsibility is to those kids, those parents, those educators”
“I have to do what I think is right to stop the coronavirus from holding the city in its grip. I have to make sure we get out of this horrible moment in our city’s history and move forward.”
But Cuomo, whose emergency powers trump those of city officials, said it was simply not de Blasio’s call to make.
“It is my legal authority in this situation” via executive order, Cuomo said, quipping that if the mayor wants to close schools, he should do so during a blizzard.
“This is not a snow day,” the governor sniped. Cuomo first ordered all schools in the state closed on March 18 for two weeks to stem the virus.
He later expanded that executive order to continue through April 29, at which point the shutdown would be re-evaluated.
“It’s not going to be decided in the next few days, because we don’t know,” Cuomo said at his daily briefing in Albany.
“I can’t tell you what June is going to look like. I can’t tell you what May is going to look like. But I can tell you it will be a metropolitan-wide decision.”