By Melissa Enaje
WINDSOR TERRACE — “Come and see.” That was the message from the Diocese of Brooklyn’s vicar for Catholic Schools after Gov. Cuomo’s Oct. 5 announcement that all schools within nine hot spots will close and pivot to remote learning.
“We’ve been totally disrespected,” Msgr. Cassato told Currents News. “I said it before, and I’ll say it again and again: Come and see, Mayor de Blasio, Gov. Cuomo, come to my school. Come to my school and see how wonderful things are. How clean, how good it is, and how wonderful the children are reacting.”
The governor’s announcement to close schools was in line with Mayor de Blasio’s Oct. 5 press conference. The mayor said school closures could last two weeks or up to four weeks, depending on whether or not COVID-19 positivity rates hold under 3 percent for seven consecutive days.
Msgr. Cassato says shuttering schools is a misdirected consequence that doesn’t take into account the diocese’s initiative to get the schools safely opened again.
“We’ve done it right from the beginning of June when school was just closing,” he said. “We took up the whole initiative of getting our schools opened. Principals, teachers, board chairmen, all worked hard to make this all happen. Sept. 9, we’ve opened, and it’s been seamless.”
“We’ve opened, and we’ve done it right, and that’s the point,” he added. “If other places haven’t done it right, don’t be penalizing us for the mistakes that have been made in other groups.”
Diocesan schools have undergone enhanced cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing protocols so educators and students can safely return on the first day of school. At Salve Regina Catholic Academy in East New York, a crew used hydro-fogger machines with EPA-approved chemicals to sanitize the air. St. Athanasius Catholic Academy in Bensonhurst created socially distant classrooms in their auditorium. At St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Academy in Windsor Terrace, the school was sanitized top to bottom on Aug. 31 with a professional cleaning team using an electrostatic sprayer.
Msgr. Cassato has one directive for those concerned about the future of the schools: “I’m telling parents, ‘Call. Call the governor’s office, call the mayor’s office.’ ”
“The officials of the government have put us into a spot, and our kids should be here,” he said. “The parents, the children need to tell politicians, need to call the city council, need to call the mayor’s office, need to call the governor’s office, and tell them we want to be back in school.”