NEW YORK — Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases across New York City, four public schools have shuttered and another 25 are under investigation for possible closure, according to city data on Sunday.
Eagle Academy for Young Men II in Brooklyn, PS 18 in the Bronx, and Robert E. Peary School in Queens were closed on Friday and will remain closed through Dec. 26, according to the DOE.
The fourth school, City Knoll Middle School in Manhattan, was closed on Saturday and will remain closed through Dec. 26, according to the DOE.
Students at all four schools will return to classrooms after winter break on Jan. 3. All affected students will utilize remote learning on days when school is in session.
DOE spokesman Nathaniel Styer told PIX11 News on Sunday that the safety of students and staff is a top priority.
“We do not hesitate to take action to keep school communities safe and our multi-layered approach to safety allows us to respond quickly and stop the spread. All staff at DOE are vaccinated and all students at these schools will have a device to ensure live, continuous learning,” Styer added.
Information made available by the Department of Education also shows there were at least 799 active classroom closures and 2,881 partial classroom closures citywide, as of Friday.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Friday that despite the concerning spike in cases across the city outside of schools, the classroom is still one of the safest places for children right now. He said regardless of case numbers, a citywide shutdown for schools was not on the table.
“No, no, no. What did I learn? Don’t do that. That’s what I learned,” the mayor said on “The Brian Lehrer Show.” “First of all, there’s this truism – never fight yesterday’s war. This is not March of 2020.”
Touting the city’s high vaccination rate — 82% of adult New Yorkers and 71.1% of the city’s entire eligible population are fully vaccinated — de Blasio said the city is in a much better position than it was when schools were shut down in the spring of 2020. Among the student population of children ages 5 to 17, 40% were fully vaccinated and nearly 52% had received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine.
The mayor also pointed to the low positivity rate in schools. However, that number is only based on a sample of students and school staff who are tested.
“The positivity level in schools as of [Friday] morning is 1.02%t compared to over 5% for the city. The schools are actually one of the safest places to be in the city,” de Blasio said on “The Brian Lehrer Show.” “They also need to be in school after all the disruption. So, no, the key here is to vaccinate. If parents are concerned about their kids, go out and get your younger kids vaccinated.”
The Department of Education was expected to provide PIX11 News with a statement on the current school closures later on Sunday.