The New York City Health Department has issued Commissioner’s Orders to private schools in neighborhoods experiencing a COVID-19 uptick, putting the schools on alert that any violation of coronavirus-related health guidelines may result in closure and a $1,000 fine.
The order applies to private schools in zip codes 11415 and 11691 in Queens; and 11204, 11223, 11230, 11219, 11229 and 11210.
The health guidelines apply to all schools, but the Commissioner’s Orders puts on notice private schools in these zip codes that they are subject to immediate closure if found to be in violation of the guidelines, which are as follows:
- All individuals on the school premises should remain at least 6 feet apart at all times, except in emergencies or when doing so would create a safety hazard;
- Face coverings are required in school buildings at all times, except for individuals who cannot wear a face covering because of developmental, medical or age reasons;
- Coordinating with the Health Department and the Test + Trace Corps to identify, isolate and prevent the spread of COVID-19; and
- Following established protocols for opening and closing schools if a student or staff is confirmed with COVID-19, and excluding students and staff who have symptoms of or are confirmed with COVID-19 or have been identified as a close contact to someone with COVID-19.
The Commissioner’s Orders are the result of a COVID-19 spike in Jewish communities in these neighborhoods, and don’t apply to public schools. Several yeshivos have been closed this week by the city.
Inspectors will be visiting the private schools in these zip codes to check for compliance.
“This may be the most precarious position with COVID-19 we have experienced in months, and we must immediately take action to protect our communities,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi. “Protecting against COVID-19 requires a group response. It is critical for us to follow public health guidance, most importantly the Core 4: Wear face coverings, keep physical distance, keep your hands clean, and stay home if you are sick.”
On Saturday evening, Health Department said that the percentage of COVID tests with positive results in the neighborhoods seeing the uptick are as follows: Gravesend/Homecrest (6.73%), Midwood (5.22%), Kew Gardens (3.53%), Edgemere/Far Rockaway (4.03%), Borough Park (4.20%), Mapleton (3.81%), Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay (3.57%), and Flatlands/Midwood (3.40%).
These areas represent 7% of the city’s population but account for over 23% of new cases citywide during the past two weeks. The growth of cases in these zip codes is 3.3 times the citywide average over the past 14 days.
Officials are also paying attention to four additional areas in Queens and Brooklyn that are showing increased growth of cases and test positivity between 2% and 3%. These include: Rego Park (2.46%), Kew Gardens Hills/Pomonok (2.36%), Kensington/Windsor Terrace (2.31%) and Brighton Beach/Manhattan Beach/Sheepshead Bay (2.21%).
There has also been a faster increase Williamsburg than in other parts of the city, though the test positivity rate there is below the other areas of concern, at 1.72%.
Across the entire city, the daily positivity rate between Sept. 1 and Sept. 23 has been between 0.8 percent and 2.2 percent.
Updated Saturday, September 26, 2020 at 8:10 pm .