DOE keeping secret a full list of schools with COVID-infected teachers

DOE keeping secret a full list of schools with COVID-infected teachers

While trying to bolster confidence in the planned school reopening, the city Department of Education won’t reveal a full list of schools where teachers who returned to work last week have tested positive for COVID-19.

The DOE also would not say whether parents or guardians at the affected schools would be notified.

As the number of teachers who test positive grew — at least 24 as of Friday — some co-workers say they were not notified or contacted by city disease detectives when staffers reported the infections.

Lynn Shon, a teacher at MS 88 in Brooklyn, tweeted Saturday that she and fellow staffers heard for the first time that morning from the city’s Test & Trace program — four days after being exposed to a colleague who tested positive for COVID.

“It’s unacceptable the lag between when we were exposed and when we were directly contacted by the city,” Shon told The Post.

A Bronx teacher told The Post she learned only by asking around that a teacher at a school in her building, PS 168, had tested positive. She saw staffers at that school leaving early on Thursday, but the school was open Friday.

“No notice went out. They are trying to hide it, going about business as usual,’ the teacher said.

Nequan McLean, a dad and president of Community Education Council 16 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, said he learned Thursday that a teacher at MS 267 had tested positive.

“There has been no official notification given out at the school. Everyone is back today,” he said Friday.

The parent advisory group voted 8-0 during an emergency meeting Thursday night to “take legal action” to stop the DOE from opening District 16 schools because officials did not turn over reports on ventilation and other building conditions. The group has retained a lawyer.

“We don’t feel like our schools are safe.” McLean said after the meeting. “The gloves are off. They’re telling too many lies.”

The DOE  said Friday it has confirmed 19 teachers at 18 schools have tested positive for COVID. One school, P.S. 811X, was closed on Friday for at least 24 hours, because it had two confirmed COVID cases in different classrooms.

The COVID-infected teachers started reporting to schools citywide last Tuesday before getting their test results, which were supposed to be “expedited.” About 15,000 teachers had themselves tested voluntarily, the DOE said.

The DOE refused to disclose how many school staffers exposed to the infected teachers have now been sent home to quarantine for 14 days.

“The mayor is saying nobody needs to know about these cases, which is pretty crazy,” said teacher Liat Olenick. “If I were a parent, I would definitely want to know.

Olenick is active in MORE-UFT, an activist faction of the teachers’ union, which tweeted a list of 22 schools where teachers reported confirmed cases. The list did not include PS 267 in Brooklyn, which McLean had identified as having a teacher testing positive.

Schools are set to open for students on Sept. 21. Beginning Oct. 1, under an agreement between the city and labor unions, all schools will have mandatory random testing of 10 percent of students.

The plan already has some parents worried about the nasal swabbing — a procedure that can be uncomfortable — being done on their children without them being present. Kids whose parents don’t give permission will have to learn remotely, officials say.

Also in October, the DOE will launch the city’s “Situation Room,” described as a “rapid response team” with members of the city Health Department and the Test & Trace Corps aimed at detecting and curbing spread of COVID.

The Health Department failed to conduct such testing and tracing in March, when numerous teachers were likely infected before Mayor de Blasio finally agreed to close the schools. Nearly 100 school staffers have since died from the virus.

Share this article:

Source: Read Full Article