Parents, Students Protest Catholic School Closure as Brooklyn COVID Hot Spot Faces More Restrictions

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Catholic Education, Coronavirus, Cuomo, Faith, Good Shepherd Catholic Academy, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Pandemic, Public School, Queens, NY, School

By Emily Drooby

Parents and students outside of Good Shepherd Catholic Academy in Marine Park, Brooklyn are demanding the State of New York let the school reopen.

“I said, ‘This time we’re not doing this without a fight,’ because there’s really no reason this time for the shut down,'” parent Katie Biscione told Currents News.

The parent organized protest was in response to the last-minute forced closure of all schools in nine COVID hot spot zip codes.

“It just came as a shock, seeing the kids coming out of school crying was a real heartbreaker, and that’s why today as parents our voice needs to be heard,” David Evans, who helped organize the event, explained.

Parents argued that the school has been safe, while Principal John O’Brien they’ve had zero cases of COVID since they opened on September 9.

“So, why should our students have to be home today? They’ve been taking their precautions. They’re healthy, thank God,” he said.

The school was already using a hybrid model of learning.

Five other Catholic schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn have been affected by the closure: St. Edmunds Prep, Brooklyn Jesuit Prep, Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy in Gravesend, St. Edmund Elementary School in Sheepshead Bay, and St. Athanasius In Bensonhurt.

Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Brooklyn, Thomas Chadzutko, is proud of how schools handled the last-minute closure, they were given less than 24 hours’ notice.

“We were able to do what we really wanted to do and to teach the children this morning and make sure they had best they could a normal day, because children are upset,” he explained.

Parents that spoke out at Good Shepherd Catholic Academy said they’re considering legal actions.

Just a few hours after the protest, the governor announced further restrictions to attack these COVID clusters. There will now be three zones around them – red, orange and yellow. All schools in the red and orange zone will be closed, while all schools in the yellow zone will be subject to mandatory testing.

As of right now, the schools office tells Currents News they are not yet sure which schools these new changes will affect.

The new rules will last for at least two weeks. They have to be in effect no later than Friday.