It’s official! School’s out until at least April 20

In what Mayor de Blasio called “a very troubling moment,” he announced that all public schools in New York City will be closed starting tomorrow, Monday, March 16, and will not reopen until at the earliest Monday, April 20 due to the coronavirus pandemic. De Blasio delivered the message at a press conference on Sunday, March 15 at approximately 5:30 p.m.

Angry Parents

The Mayor had initially said that schools would remain open as recently as yesterday, but appeared to cave following pressure from angry parents and the threat of a lawsuit from the UFT. De Blasio was concerned about the thousands of children who depend on schools for meals and those whose parents are healthcare workers and are needed on the job.

"I'm very reticent to shut down schools for a variety of reasons," said De Blasio. "Not just because that's where a lot of kids get their only good meals, where they get adult supervision, especially teenagers, who otherwise would be out on the streets.”

This followed last week's calls from City Councilmembers Mark Treyger and Justin Brannan to close the schools. Brannan, whose district includes Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Bath Beach, said that we are walking through uncharted territory.

"Folks, we are at a tipping point," said Brannan. "If transmission of the COVID-19 coronavirus is not slowed down within the next week, experts believe our hospital system will be overwhelmed. Therefore what happens over the next seven days will be critical," added Brannan.

De Blasio announced that school children would be able to study remotely beginning on Monday, March 23. Public school teachers were asked to report for work on Tuesday, March 17 through Thursday, March 19, to be trained for remote learning.

The Mayor further cited the rapid spread of the virus and the 729 confirmed cases COVID-19 in New York State, with 61 deaths reported.

329 confirmed cases in New York City

There are 329 confirmed cases in New York City, with 53 reported cases in Brooklyn. The five confirmed deaths in New York City occurred during the past week, including one 82-year-old woman from Brooklyn who suffered with a pre-existing condition.

While schools will be closed for classes for the next five days, children may still pick up breakfast and lunch to go. After that, the Mayor said that other locations would be announced throughout the city. Also, senior centers will closed, but will be available for seniors to pick up grab and go meals.

Alice Mulligan, executive director of Our Saviour's Lutheran Preschool at 414 80th Street in Bay Ridge offered parents suggestions for what to tell children about their school being closed.

"Some of you have been asking what to tell your children," explained Mulligan. "Our world gets bad germs that can sometimes hurt us.  There is now a new, bad germ in our world that can make some people, usually older people, really sick.

Our scientists and doctors are learning how to get rid of it and we all have to stay home so we don't get this bad germ and give it to other people.  Reassure them that you and they are going to be just fine.  This is a time to take care of all people by being at home and that we will see each other again as soon as we can," added Mulligan.

Mulligan told this paper that she called the Department of Early Childhood in the DOE and commended them for their decision to close the schools. Furthermore, Mulligan offered Our Saviour's as a site of distribution for the Bay Ridge community.

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