Just as the city was preparing to begin monthly coronavirus testing in public schools, Gov. Cuomo upended the plan.

What You Need To Know

  • Gov. Cuomo released a new plan for managing coronavirus spikes -- mapping schools using a color-coded system instead of zip codes
  • Schools in red and orange zones will close, and those in yellow zones will need to test a sample of students weekly

  • The city was planning to test a portion of students at each school once a month

He announced that in areas where coronavirus cases are surging, the city must do more.

"The schools in those yellow zones must do weekly testing," Cuomo said.

Cuomo's new plan uses color-coded zones to rate the severity of coronavirus clusters instead of the zip code based plan Mayor de Blasio used to close schools on Tuesday, with Cuomo's approval.

Public and private schools in Cuomo's red and orange zones must close by Friday. City Hall says schools in those zones will be closed as soon as Thursday, if they had not already been shut under the mayor's plan.

But one thing is clear: schools in the yellow zone -- areas of elevated but not alarming numbers of COVID cases -- will see much more frequent testing of students and teachers than the city was planning on.

"I am more and more concerned about schools, the more experience we have and the more we get into this, the more important I think it is that schools do random testing," Cuomo said.

Just hours before Cuomo's announcement, de Blasio debuted a polished video outlining his plan to test 10 to 20 percent of each school's students and staff once a month. The video was aimed at convincing parents to return signed consent forms so their children could be tested.

"Starting this month we will test a random sample of staff and students from first graders all the way to twelfth grades in school one day a month," a doctor outlines the plan in the video.

It was not immediately clear under the governor's plan how many public and private schools in the city are in the yellow zones and therefore would require weekly -- rather than monthly -- coronavirus testing. Cuomo says the state health department will determine what percentage of a school's population must be tested each week.

"If a school needs additional testing equipment they should contact us, we can help them," he said.

Despite all the focus on testing students and closing schools, de Blasio has maintained that public schools have not been a cause of the city's spike in COVID cases.

"I told you about a recent batch of tests at schools in the nine zip codes, 1,351 tests of educator and staff came back with only two positives. So I think the schools are proving to be very safe," de Blasio said.

But he says it makes sense to close them as part of an overall effort to reduce human activity and virus transmission in hot spots over the next few weeks.