De Blasio allowing 23 schools previously in COVID-19 red zones to reopen Thursday

The entrance to Public School 159 is seen in the Queens borough of New York City
FILE PHOTO: The entrance to Public School 159 is seen in the Queens borough of New York City, New York, U.S., July 8, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Over 20 schools previously located in Brooklyn red zones and now in state-designated COVID-19 yellow zones will be allowed to reopen on Thursday, officials announced on Monday. 

Last month, health department officials reported worrisome upticks in the virus in neighborhoods across Brooklyn and Queens. In order to quash the rising number of virus cases, the state issued a series of restrictions on schools, businesses, and houses of worship based on color-coded cluster site maps with red, orange, and yellow zones. 

In red zones, all non-essential businesses and schools are closed, gatherings are banned and houses of worship may only have 10 congregants inside at any given time. Schools in orange zones are also required to close. Governor Andrew Cuomo recently lifted most restrictions in Queens and said that schools in Brooklyn red zones could reopen if they tested all students and staff before allowing them into buildings and pledge to test 25% of all adults and children at random every week. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the city did not have plans to immediately reopen the 45 public schools still in red zones and would instead wait until the end of the week to take any steps forward. On Monday, de Blasio said that the 22 schools in Brooklyn red zones would remain closed until further notice with 23 now located in yellow zones would reopen. 

“We are going to stand back, continue to hope that progress in those red zones takes all of those areas out of the red zones all together at which point we will reopen schools,” de Blasio said. Department of Education officials are currently notifying families of school zone changes, according to a department spokesperson. To check if a school remains in a red zone or is now in a cluster yellow zone please visit the city’s COVID-19 zone finder.