Coronavirus Update NYC: Queens school closes to in-person education, goes remote amid outbreak

Coronavirus update for NYC
NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- P.S. 166Q, the Henry Gradstein School, in Queens is now only the second New York City public school to go fully remote this year and the first since September.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter said Wednesday it's a testament to the "gold standard" of safety they've created.

The school shut down Tuesday after 19 students and three staff members tested positive since November 2.

Students will be learning fully remote for at least the next 10 days.

Teachers said the shift to remote education negatively impacts some students, like those in special education, more than others.

It's basically a lost couple of weeks to have them to sit in front of a screen at 5 years old is really unrealistic," special education itinerant teacher Meredith Faltin said.

The closure comes just days after elementary students became eligible to get vaccinated.

So far in New York City, 31,337 5-11-year-olds have received a COVID vaccination with 5,800 being administered in school buildings Tuesday.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Jr. urged all parents to get their children vaccinated and said he's getting his 5-year-old vaccinated this week.

"I am urging all residents, all parents, loved ones of children to get their children vaccinated. I already promised (my son) some ice cream when he takes the vaccine. So that's an incentive that he'll enjoy has he gets vaccinated over the course of the next few days," Richards said.

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said the outbreak would have closed the campus two weeks ago under last year's protocols.

"This was the right decision. No one wants to close schools, but it was necessary in this situation to keep students and staff safe," Mulgrew said in a statement.

"The standards are entirely different this year because the situation in this city is entirely different," de Blasio said.

Mayor de Blasio said 93% of city workers are now vaccinated while2,600 employees remain on leave without pay, representing less than 1% of all city employees.

There are 12,400 requests for reasonable accommodations pending.

"The mandates we put in place are working, we get more and more evidence of that all of the time," de Blasio said.

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