Diocese asks governor to allow its schools in parts of Brooklyn, Queens to open

Classroom Credit GUNDAM Ai Shutterstock CNA GUNDAM_Ai / Shutterstock.

Catholics schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn have asked New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to permit four schools in areas of Brooklyn and Queens without widespread cases of coronavirus to continue in-person learning.

Three Brooklyn Catholic academies and one parish school had been operating under stringent coronavirus restrictions, but the schools were shut down Oct. 6 along, with about 300 others in the area.

The closed Catholic schools are St. Athanasius Catholic Academy, Our Lady of Grace, St. Edmund Elementary School, and Good Shepherd Catholic Academy. The enrollment totals 1,070 students.

Their combined enrollment is 1,070, and there has been one confirmed case of Covid-19 among them.

The Brooklyn diocese commented that "these statistics prove that the Diocesan COVID-19 safety policies are effectively protecting our students and teachers."

On Oct. 5 Cuomo ordered schools in nine zip codes of Brooklyn and Queens to close. Although these zip codes represent 7% of New York City's population, they have accounted for more than 20% of new coronavirus infections in the last four weeks.

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio had asked Cuomo for permission to restrict both schools and businesses in the zip codes.

"This decision by the Governor clearly fails to take into account the positive progress our Diocesan school system has made so far this school year," Tom Chadzutko, superintendent of schools for the Brooklyn diocese, said Oct. 5.

"It is unconscionable to think that after the many sacrifices our staff, students, and parents have made, and in spite of our almost non-existent infection rate, the Governor has decided to force our four schools to close. The Governor should delay the order related to our schools and visit each one before holding firm to his decision."

According to the Brooklyn diocese, its schools require students to wear masks all day, throughout the building. Desks are set up six feet apart, and hand and respiratory hygiene are promoted and enforced by teachers.

The diocese added that there is signage throughout school buildings relating to the requirements, and there are daily health screenings of all who enter the building per state guidelines, and all city and state mandates on reporting, testing, and tracing are followed.

The buildings are cleaned daily with CDC approved sanitizers and disinfectants, and high touch areas are cleaned multiple times a day.

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