Coronavirus News: Queens school is 1st in NYC to shut down over COVID cases

COVID-19 News and Information
ELMHURST, Queens (WABC) -- A school in Queens will be closed for two weeks after two staff members tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the first school in New York City to close due to a potential outbreak.

The John F. Kennedy Jr School in Elmhurst will remain closed through October 13, according to a letter sent home to families on Wednesday.

"As always, the health and safety of our students and staff, and everyone in the DOE family across the city, is our top priority," the letter read. "As you know, our school building was closed for an initial 24 hours because two or more members of our school community tested positive for COVID-19. Today, we are writing to update you that the NYC Test + Trace Corps and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene have determined that at this time the main site building must remain closed for 14 days."

The Department of Education said the staff members were in different classrooms and are not linked. The incident meets the protocols of 14-day switch to remote learning, which is what occurred.

Related: 1st day of in-person learning for NYC middle and high schoolers

All teaching and learning will continue remotely, and officials hope to reopen the building on Wednesday, October 14.

"It has 262 students in their blended learning program and 88 staff, so that school as of today is shut down for two weeks," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "That's the only one the entire time that has experienced that."

Anyone with a positive COVID-19 test will not return to the school until they are no longer infectious.

Close contacts of the persons who tested positive have been notified and will continue their 14-day quarantine period.

"If the safety comes first, there might be times when the school community has to flip the switch and go remote," United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew said, "We are not closing our schools. Are we live or are we remote? Those are the two new things that schools operate under."

Related: 10 NYC neighborhoods with COVID-19 positivity rates above 3%

If additional close contacts are identified, they will also be instructed to quarantine for 14 days.

Families are reminded to stay home if you feel sick, monitor your and your child's heath, wear a mask, and practice social distancing.

"Kids will get instruction remotely, then the school will be back up," de Blasio said. "Everyone who was quarantined will come right back, and will continue with the rest of the school year."

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Suddenly, the brutal death of George Floyd while in the custody of police officers in Minneapolis filled the streets of a nation with rage and sorrow. New York was no different. Protesters put the fear of the virus aside and took to the streets by the thousands. Abandoning the safety and comfort of social distance, to demand social change.


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