P.S. 166 in Astoria becomes second school to close due to COVID-19 this fall

A student returns to school in the Bronx on Sept. 13, 2021.
NYC Mayoral Photography Unit

A public elementary school in Astoria, Queens has become the second school to close this school year due to COVID-19 infections.  

Students at the P.S. 166, The Henry Gradstein School, will shift to remote learning for the next 10 days. According to the New York State Department of Health’s COVID-19 report card, three school staffers and 22 students have tested positive for the virus between Nov. 3 and Nov.9. 

Last year, the New York City public schools closed when two or more unlinked COVID-19 cases were found within a building. The “two case” rule was eventually dropped in April which officials never replaced with a new threshold instead announcing at the beginning of the fall that schools would only close if “widespread” transmission of the virus was found in a building. 

When asked Wednesday why officials waited until Tuesday to shutter the school de Blasio told reporters that COVID-19 safety standards “are entirely different this year.” 

“We have all adults in our school communities vaccinated and we have an incredibly low level of COVID in our schools,” said de Blasio. “So we changed the rules.”

“This is our second closure, it is Nov. 10 and so that must mean we are doing something right,” Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter, who joined Mayor de Blasio for his daily COVID press conference, added. 

In September, P.S. 79, a middle and high school in East Harlem serving special education students, became the first school this school year to close due to COVID after multiple school staffers tested positive for the virus. 

P.S.79’s roughly 277 students had just returned to physical classrooms after 18-months of disrupted learning the week prior.