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After I wrote yesterday about the school closures in 9 zip codes, the Governor threw the plan into confusion and uncertainty with the announcement of a new plan for targeted closures based on a color-coded map that wasn’t made available until hours later and even still, is difficult to decipher.
We urgently need targeted shut-downs to tamp down the second wave of this virus, already rising in NYC. But the confusion and contradiction is the last thing we need.
Here’s what we know about the Governor’s “plan:”
The Governor’s proposal consists of a 3 tier, color-coded framework for closing schools, certain businesses, and limiting the size of religious gatherings in certain areas. There is now a map, though even a cartographer would have trouble knowing how to interpret the lines running through the middle of blocks to identify closure areas. The closures, which will likely affect more schools than those announced on Monday, could take effect as soon as Thursday, and businesses in the closed zones need to comply by Friday.
- Red Zones: Schools would be closed to in person learning, non essential businesses would again be closed, mass gatherings prohibited, and religious institutions limited to 10 people at a time.
- Orange Zones: Schools would be closed, high risk nonessential businesses like gyms closed, indoor dining prohibited, and religious institutions limited to 33% capacity or 25 people.
- Yellow Zones: Schools would be open with new mandates for weekly testing, businesses open, indoor dining still allowed, and religious institutions limited to 50% capacity.
The details are still being shared and worked out with City Hall, and we are working to get answers to the many, many questions that this new plan leaves us with. Currently, it is our understanding that the school closures do affect DOE-contracted child care centers, but not necessarily other child care businesses in the zones, so long as they remain considered essential businesses.
I’m pushing, with leadership from Assemblymember Bobby Carroll and along with our federal and state representatives, for a more targeted approach to the schools in Kensington/11218, many of which appear to fall within the orange zone of school closures but have yet to see a single case and are clearly not where the virus is spreading. I feel deeply for the teachers, families and administrators who have worked so hard to open the schools safely and are being forced to close due to a disregard for safety precautions elsewhere. And I’m very concerned about the educational inequity that these closures will enhance, especially has the DOE is saying that 100,000 Ipads are still needed for access to remote learning. We should have far more frequent testing happening in schools, and the ability to make decisions based on better data, and the resources needed for remote learning.
We knew that the fall, with colder weather and reopenings, would bring the challenge of a second wave, and that targeted closures would be essential to avert the need for a broader shutdown. The second wave is indeed here, the case count is rising and the positivity rate is up citywide, in zip codes across the city, not just the hotspot areas. So it’s frankly enraging that the Governor and Mayor were not aligned on a plan to make data-driven decisions and communicate them clearly.
And don’t even get me started on the callous refusal of the Trump administration and its allies to implement a wide reaching stimulus package to save jobs, support out of work families, and prevent a massive wave of evictions – all while continuing to downplay the severity of this deadly pandemic.
This is all incredibly hard. My office is working hard to do what we can for schools, families, and businesses in the neighborhood, and we all need to do our part to stop the spread by wearing masks, distancing, regular testing, and avoiding nonessential gatherings. If there are specific things we can help with, do let us know, and we will update when we have more information.