Group of charter schools in Queens to close this week over coronavirus case

Challenge Charter Schools’ Enrichment Center at 15-26 Central Ave. in Far Rockaway, Queens. (Photo via Google Maps)

Challenge Charter Schools in Far Rockaway announced Monday that it would close its K-8 school sites and offices for three days later this week in light of a recent confirmed case of coronavirus in the neighborhood.

The school posted a letter from its CEO, Rev. Dr. Les Mullings, on its website Monday night announcing that the facilities will be closed from Wednesday, March 11, through Friday, March 13, for “comprehensive sanitation.” School will be back in session on Monday, March 16, Mullings said.

“Regular school hours will be maintained on Monday, March 9, and Tuesday, March 10, to allow you to make arrangements and to disrupt the learning of our students as little as possible,” the announcement reads. “Please understand there is no threat to our scholars. As with many other schools and districts across the region and nation, this action is a proactive measure in the prevention of the spread of the virus.”

The charter school’s closure comes after a Queens Uber driver was hospitalized at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway and tested positive for coronavirus. Mayor Bill de Blasio said Saturday evening that the driver is in his 30s and drives on Long Island. He is not a TLC licensed driver, according to the mayor.

de Blasio said Monday that there are now 20 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New York City, and a total of 142 statewide.

Challenge Charter schools is not the only school in New York City to announce that it will shut down. Brooklyn Paper reported Monday that Brooklyn Friends School — located in Downtown Brooklyn — will close for two weeks amid coronavirus fears, according to school officials.

The private school, with two locations on Pearl and Willoughby streets near MetroTech, will remain closed from March 10 through 13, and the school will cancel its upcoming spring break camp for elementary schoolers that runs from the 18th to the 22nd, according to Brooklyn Paper.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday morning that there are no plans to close public or private schools because of the virus, but that any school with confirmed diagnosis will temporarily close.

“We would only consider closing any particular school for very specific reas‎ons and for as brief a period of time as possible,” he said at a Brooklyn press conference, held not far from Brooklyn Friends School.

Challenge Charter schools asks those with any questions to contact them by calling the following phone numbers:

  • K-5 at (718) 327-1352
  • 6-8 at (347) 990-1875
  • Central Staff Office at (718) 327-4040

“As always, the safety of our scholars and their families is important to us, and we will make every effort to do our part in prevention locally,” Mullins said in the letter.