Brooklyn Diocese Asks Cuomo to Keep Catholic Schools Open Safely – Not Online – in COVID Hot Spots

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Catholic Education, Catholic Family, Catholic High Schools, Catholic Schools, Coronavirus, Crux, Cuomo, De Blasio, Faith, Pandemic, Queens, NY

By Emily Drooby and Erin DeGregorio

WINDSOR TERRACE — Parents from Good Shepherd Catholic Academy (Marine Park) will be meeting on the block of their school at noon on Oct. 6. In a socially distant manner, they will be expressing their frustration over Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that certain Catholic academies and schools are included in temporary school closures in nine hotspot ZIP codes.

On Oct. 5, Gov. Cuomo announced all New York City schools within nine hotspot ZIP codes will physically close and pivot to remote learning on Oct. 6. This comes after New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a proposal on Oct. 4 to shut down schools and non-essential businesses within the areas with high positivity rates.

The neighborhoods/ZIP codes that have had above 3 percent coronavirus positivity rates for at least seven consecutive days include Edgemere/Far Rockaway (11691), Borough Park (11219), Gravesend/Homecrest (11223), Midwood (11230), Bensonhurst/Mapleton (11204), Flatlands/Midwood (11210), Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay (11229), Kew Gardens (11415), and Kew Gardens Hills/Pomonok (11367).

Five parish schools, Catholic academies, and high schools in the affected ZIP codes are Good Shepherd Catholic Academy (11229), Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy (11223), St. Athanasius Catholic Academy (11204), St. Edmund School (11229), and St. Edmund Preparatory High School (11229).

During the Mayor’s press conference on Oct. 5 — a few hours after Gov. Cuomo’s press conference — Mayor de Blasio said the physical closures of schools could last two weeks minimum (with positivity rates under three percent for seven consecutive days) or as many as four weeks (whereby the last day of the four weeks positivity rates are under three percent).

Reaction from the Diocese of Brooklyn

Catholic academies and parish schools in Brooklyn and Queens are asking Gov. Cuomo to immediately reverse his decision and allow four schools that have been operating safely for weeks, within the COVID-19 ‘hotspots’ ZIP codes, to continue in-person learning.

In the three Catholic academies and one parish school located in the affected areas (St. Athanasius Catholic Academy, Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy, St. Edmund Elementary School, and Good Shepherd Catholic Academy), enrollment totals 1,070 students, and there has only been one confirmed COVID case. “These statistics prove that the Diocesan COVID-19 safety policies are effectively protecting our students and teachers,” read a statement from the Diocese of Brooklyn.

“This decision by the Governor clearly fails to take into account the positive progress our Diocesan school system has made so far this school year,” said Brooklyn Diocese Superintendent of Schools Dr. Thomas Chadzutko.

“It is unconscionable to think that after the many sacrifices our staff, students, and parents have made, and in spite of our almost non-existent infection rate, the Governor has decided to force our four schools to close,” Chadzutko added. “The Governor should delay the order related to our schools and visit each one before holding firm to his decision.”

Click here to read the statement from the Diocese of Brooklyn

Other Areas to Watch

Mayor de Blasio has also said high-risk activities in 12 other ZIP codes — which have had climbing positivity rates for seven consecutive days — are being closely monitored. The areas could see closures of indoor dining, gyms, and indoor and outdoor pools beginning Oct. 7.

These 12 neighborhoods/ZIP codes include Bedford-Stuyvesant (West)/Clinton Hill/Fort Greene (11205), East Williamsburg/Williamsburg (11211 and 11249), Brighton Beach/Manhattan Beach/Sheepshead Bay (11235), Bergen Beach/Flatlands/Marine Park/Mill Basin (11234), Crown Heights (East) (11213), Kensington/Windsor Terrace (11218), Rego Park (11374), Fresh Meadows/Hillcrest (11366), Hillcrest/Jamaica Estates/Jamaica Hills (11432), Auburndale/Fresh Meadows/Pomonok/Utopia (11365), and Forest Hills (11375).