Nine elementary schools in Queens close due to positive COVID-19 cases

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While some public schools reopened on Dec. 7, nine schools in Queens already have had to close this week due to positive COVID-19 cases.

As of Thursday, Dec. 10, the Department of Education’s (DOE) daily COVID cases map, which shows all known cases of COVID-19 at New York City’s public schools, listed the following schools closed due to one or more positive case of the virus in a school building: P.S. 232 Lindenwood in Howard Beach, Parsons Preschool in Woodhaven, P.S. 117 in Briarwood, P.S. 101 and P.S. 144 in Forest Hills, NYL Clearview School in Flushing, P.S. 229 in Woodside, P.S. 70 and P.S. 17 in Astoria.

Nine schools also closed in the Bronx, five closed in Brooklyn, four in Staten Island and one in Manhattan.

Eleven schools have a 24-hour closure, while seven will be closed for two weeks as of Dec. 10. The DOE is also tracking closed classrooms, of which there are currently 77 citywide as of Dec. 1o.

The DOE, which is working with several agencies to compile the data, reported that of the 113 confirmed COVID-19 cases in public schools, 55 of them are from students and 58 from staff.

Mayor Bill de Blasio closed schools before Thanksgiving after the city reached a 3 percent COVID-19 infection rate, a threshold that was agreed upon months ago with teachers unions — but school closures were already taking place prior to the full shutdown. School closures may increase due to more frequent testing, which is part of the city’s plans to keep the school system open and safe.

“We have strict protocols in place to keep our schools safe and we don’t hesitate to thoroughly investigate and take quick action if there is a positive case reported in the building,” DOE spokesperson Miranda Barbot told QNS. “While we are increasing testing in schools to once per week, we continue to emphasize our preventative safety measures: frequent hand-washing, social distancing and face coverings.”

On Friday, Dec. 11, de Blasio announced the city’s COVID-19 infection rate was at 5.35 percent, with the number of daily hospitalizations at 205 (or 2.48 per 100,000 people). De Blasio noted the hospitalizations numbers have reached their threshold of 200 hospitalizations per day.

“We’ve been holding the line up to now, but this is a sign that the hospitalization issue is becoming a bigger challenge and one that we’re going to have to confront, all of us are going to have to be part of addressing,” said de Blasio during his daily press briefing. “Across the board, we see that these indicators have all unfortunately surpassed their thresholds. This is an indicator — this is a sign, I should say, of how deep this crisis is right now, how much work we have to do to fight back the coronavirus as we, thank God, implement the vaccination in the program that will change everything. This is a crucial moment — and I’m going to say it every chance I get: everyone has to be part of this. Everyone needs to wear your mask, practice social distancing. If you have travel plans, cancel them now. Stay home for the holidays. Stay close to the very few loved ones who are close by. This is what we need to do to get through this last push until the vaccine is more widely distributed and we turn the tide.”

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