Diocese of Brooklyn Schools Push for Reimbursement on COVID Supplies Ahead of School Year

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Catholic Education, COVID, covid testing, Faith, Media, Queens, NY

By Jessica Easthope

Every mask, every temperature check, every pump of hand sanitizer adds up.

Last year, Catholic schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn stayed open for in person learning. But protecting students, teachers and staff members got costly.

“Unlike the DOE that does have a lot more funds than we do, if we need a thermometer it’s not an option we buy it, even if it comes out of our own pockets, all that costs a lot of money, money that we didn’t have,” said Cristina Tancredi-Cruz, the principal of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Academy.

It cost more than $3,000 a day to keep the school open during the pandemic. Dr. Cruz says even though the school is in the heart of Corona, Queens – one of the hardest hit areas – closing wasn’t an option.

“It has to be the most frustrating thing and you lose sleep, I kid you not, and we really care and that’s what sets us aside and we received a lot of families from public school because we were open,” she said.

All 69 schools in the Diocese applied for funds to stay open and testing was done through SOMOS. But they’re still waiting on reimbursement from FEMA for equipment public schools got for free.

“It was disheartening to see the lack of responsiveness from city and state. We did push the city to reimburse us or work with us but sadly that fell on deaf ears,” said schools superintendent Dr. Thomas Chadzutko.

He said staying open was a massive undertaking. Now without reimbursement, many schools are faced with tough choices.

“We’ll figure it out like we always do but we’ll have to cut back in some areas, most likely staffing so we can purchase what we need and I’m talking about the bare necessities,” said Dr. Cruz.

FEMA said it would be six months to a year before any reimbursements would come in.