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Brooklyn public school shuts down after two staffers test positive for COVID-19

A parent holds a sign to protest the opening of schools, as teachers work outside their school building for safety reasons, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., September 14, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Another New York City public school will be temporarily shut down to COVID-19 a week before in-person classes are before remote learning is scheduled to begin.

P.S. 139 in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, will be closed for 24 hours starting Sept. 16., while the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the city’s Test and Trace Corp investigate two potentially unrelated cases of the virus. 

On Tuesday, the school’s principal called the city’s “Situation Room” to report a potentially COVID-19 positive staffer. Department of Education officials confirmed the case and are currently preparing to notify the school community in writing, according to DOE spokesperson Miranda Barbot. The first P.S. 139 staffer to test positive for the virus self-reported their test result to the Department of Education on Friday, Sept. 11. 

Schools will be shut down if more than one staffer not connected by classroom or cohort tests positive for the virus within a seven day period, DOE policy dictates.

Staff will be updated on the status of the cases and when the building will be safe to re-enter by 6 p.m. Wednesday, according to DOE spokesperson Miranda Barbot. P.S. 811x The Academy for Career and Living Skills, a district 75 school in the Bronx, was the first school in the city to temporarily close this fall after two DOE employees tested positive for the virus last week. 

Now, the total number of DOE staffers that have tested positive for the virus is 56. Officials reported on Monday that 55 school-based staff have tested positive for COVID-19. Roughly 17,000 tests have been administered to staff resulting in a positivity rate of 0.32%. 

Teachers in coordination with the activist branch of the city’s teacher union the MORE UFT staged a “work out” outside P.S. 139 and half a dozen other schools on Monday in protest the city’s plans to send students back into buildings in a week. 

While remote learning begins on Sept. 16, public schools will reopen their doors to students on Sept. 21, with a “blended model” of in-classroom instruction and remote learning taking place during the school year.

Parents and children protest the opening of schools, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., September 14, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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