272 DOE buildings are currently closed due to COVID cases12/24/2020
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A total of 272 Department of Education buildings are temporarily closed due to coronavirus cases among students and staff, according to DOE figures.
Those facilities — which include regular DOE schools along with some early education and agency-run daycare centers — were all locked up based on infections detected over the past two weeks.
Over the entire course of the COVID-19-plagued academic year, 777 DOE buildings have been closed for some period of time due to the presence of the virus.
As of Tuesday night, the DOE reported that 229 active buildings were shuttered for 14 days while another 43 were closed for 24 hours.
The DOE stressed that the city’s COVID-19 Situation Room is overseeing roughly 3,000 buildings currently serving city kids. That includes traditional public schools as well as independent early learning centers.
Shutdown lengths vary based on the number and circumstances of coronavirus infections.
Schools are normally allowed to reopen after cases are probed by city officials.
The DOE will be closed for winter break beginning Thursday through New Year’s Day.
The DOE has reported a total of 6,282 COVID-19 cases in city schools since September — 2,788 among kids and 3,494 staff infections.
“As the City beats back a second wave, it’s important to remember that public health officials do not find schools pose any greater risk of COVID-19 transmission to students and staff and has not been the source of any widespread outbreaks,” said DOE spokesperson Miranda Barbot Wednesday.
City Hall resumed classroom instruction for some 3-k, pre-k, and K-5 kids along with a segment of special needs learners on December 7 after a systemwide closure several weeks prior.
But heading into the winter break, many of those children are already back home and learning remotely once again — at least temporarily.
To stave off outbreaks, the city instituted more stringent testing programs for DOE building populations, going from monthly to weekly random testing.
The DOE said that about 190,000 students were eligible to return to classrooms this month.
Early learners and special needs students were exempted from COVID-19 testing, leaving about 130,000 kids subject to the screens.
Of those, 9 percent — or about 12,000 students — have been switched to remote learning after failing to produce required coronavirus testing consent forms.
Teachers are also part of mandatory screenings each week.
“We are working around the clock to quickly investigate and address any positives that arise, and do not hesitate to enact a temporary building closure in order to stop any potential spread within the school community,” Barbot said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has stated that middle schools will begin to explore reopening next month at the earliest.
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