NYC Public Schools to Mandate Random COVID Tests. In Brooklyn Diocese, Any Test Will Be Voluntary

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Catholic Education, Catholic Schools, Coronavirus, Faith, Pandemic, Public School, Queens, NY

By Emily Drooby

Starting October 1, New York City public schools will be required to randomly test 10 to 20 percent of their in-house students and staff. Mayor Bill de Blasio says the free tests will be the self-swab ones. Parental consent is required to perform them.

“Per the agreement, we will start the systematic testing in October,” said NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio during a press conference on September 3, doubling down on the city’s plan to have monthly mandatory coronavirus testing in public schools.

Students whose parents don’t give consent will be moved to remote learning. Any staff member refusing to take part will be placed on unpaid leave.

The Mayor was optimistic about parents’ reactions.

“From what we’ve seen so far we think we’re going to get a very strong, positive response when parents hear,
” he said.

However, that was not the case. Many quickly took to social media to blast the plan. One of those parents is NYC Councilman Joe Borelli of Staten Island.

“I am angry that a bunch of guys – two of whom none of us trust – sat in a room and decided on my kid getting a medical test without my presence,” he wrote on social media.

He further called it an, “astounding stretch of authority,” adding that dozens of families have called his office to complain.

At first the city and unions said testing would happen in schools. Now they’re saying it’ll happen at third party healthcare facilities.

On the flip side, Catholic schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn say they will not be doing this.

Associate superintendent, Joan McMaster, said, “We will be sending out and encouraging our teachers completely voluntarily if they would like to be tested. We will be providing them with available testing sites for their convenience, but we will not be doing random testing of anyone in our school communities.”

Instead of mandatory random testing they’ll follow the core four guidelines; stay home if you are sick, social distance, cover your face and practice healthy hand hygiene.

Many parish schools and Catholic academies in the Diocese of Brooklyn are still hard at work, preparing to open to students on September 9.