NYC Catholic schools to remain open despite public schools shutdown

Photo by Linda Rosier

New York City Catholic schools will remain open for students and staffers in spite of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to temporarily shut down public schools as COVID-19 numbers continue to rise, superintendents at the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn announced.

The Archdiocese of New York oversees 172 parish schools across ten counties including the boroughs of Staten Island, the Bronx and Manhattan while the Diocese of Brooklyn controls 69 K-12 schools and academies in both Brooklyn and Queens.

“Catholic schools operate independently of New York City public schools,” Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of New York Michael J. Deegan said. “Catholic schools will remain open until our Health and Safety Task Force, working with officials from the New York State Department of Health and the governor’s office, determine otherwise.”

Catholic schools have been open for in-person classes five days a week since September and have adhered to a strict set of health and safety guidelines, according to the Archdiocese. Church leadership closed schools on Staten Island earlier this month after city officials reported the COVID-19 positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average for parts of the borough reached an alarming 5.2 percent, prompting state officials to designate most of the island into a yellow zone.

In October, Governor Cuomo announced a cluster-zone strategy to control and eliminate small outbreaks across the state which involves designating areas with increasing numbers of the virus red, orange or yellow zones. A series of restrictions on schools, gatherings, religious institutions and business operations correspond to each color.

The Archdiocese blamed the short transition to remote learning on the city for failing to provide parish schools in the borough with sufficient COVID-19 tests to abide by state testing guidelines. Per state rules, in order for schools located in yellow zones to stay open, school administration must test at least 20 percent of all students and staffers for COVID every week.

“I am frustrated that the mayor’s announcement was made as Catholic schools and academies throughout Brooklyn and Queens were dismissing our students,” said Dr. Thomas Chadzutko, superintendent of Catholic Schools for Diocese of Brooklyn. “I want to make it clear to parents, teachers, staff and students that the mayor’s announcement only pertains to New York City public schools. We have worked tirelessly to ensure that our school community remains safe for everyone, and we will continue to ensure strict compliance with all health and safety protocols.”

This story originally appeared on amny.com

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