DOE confirms 169 school sites across COVID clusters closed for a two week period

FILE PHOTO: Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza tour New Bridges Elementary School ahead of schools reopening
FILE PHOTO: A hallway stands empty during a news conference at an elementary school

The Department of Education has released a list of all schools across Brooklyn and Queens COVID cluster zones are closed for a two week period beginning today, Oct. 8. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday proposed a plan to shut down all schools, non-essential businesses and restrict the number of congregants allowed in houses of worship this week in response to COVID upticks in nine city zip codes all located in the two boroughs. 

On Monday, the governor approved school closures for Tuesday, a day ahead of the mayor’s proposed shutdown date, without specifying a reopening date and chose to leave businesses open. The governor said that he would provide his own geographical criteria for enforcing restrictions arguing that the zip codes were too imprecise. On Tuesday, Cuomo announced that the state would use a three-layered zone approach to enforcing COVID restrictions. Maps of the layers have caused confusion among many New Yorkers unable to determine where the borders of the colored layers fall. 

On Wednesday, Mayor de Blasio said that all schools in cluster red zones were closed and those in the orange layer would shut down for two weeks on Thursday but did not provide a list of affected schools until later that evening. 

Department of Education officials notified an additional 61 public school sites that their buildings would close on Thursday throughout the day on Wednesday, according to department spokesperson Miranda Barbot. 

The number of schools impacted by the zone closures is 124. Out of the school sites closed, 16 sites in the state’s yellow zone were closed on Tuesday and 66 are in the red zone. Another 87 are in the orange zones, according to the DOE. All sites will be reevaluated for reopening in two weeks with the earliest any site could reopen to students is Wednesday, Oct. 21. 

In addition, the department has identified 308 school sites in yellow zones and will have mandatory weekly COVID testing which is expected to begin Friday, Oct. 16. The city expects the state to provide further guidance on weekly testing by Friday, Oct. 9. 

“This decision to close school buildings is one strategy in a comprehensive plan designed to reduce transmission in these specific geographic clusters,” said Barbot. “We have conducted mobile testing in areas where we are seeing clusters. Of 1,859 test results, only two have been positive.”

The city plans to roll out mandatory monthly COVID testing at schools open for in-person learning on Friday. Schools that there closed until Oct. 21, will not be tested this month, according to officials.