Reopen NYC: Mayor announces 55 positive COVID-19 cases among NYC school employees

COVID-19 News and Information

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
55 positive coronavirus cases among NYC school employees
Diana Rocco reports on the New York City school staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- One week before the start of school, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that 55 New York City school staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.

As a result, one school closed Monday, while another previously closed one reopened.

The MORE UFT caucus of the teachers' union held a "Day of Action" of protests Monday outside two city schools.

"We're just a few days into the school reopening plan negotiated by the Mayor and UFT leadership, and it's already clear our communities are in danger. Positive cases around the city have been reported among staff, requiring colleagues to quarantine at a moment's notice. Staff returned to buildings with sinks, windows, toilets still broken, without PPE and without adequate staffing for the hybrid model," the group said in a press release.

One of the 55 positive cases was at P.S. 139 in Flatbush, Brooklyn, where a teacher showed up to work with a fever last week and was sent home.

Contact tracers took three days to reach out to those who had been exposed. The teachers who came into contact with the positive case are quarantining for 14 days.

This morning, the staff decided the building had not been properly cleaned and was not safe to work in. They will continue to work outside as long as it takes until the city gets it right.

If there is one more case in a separate classroom at the school, it could be in jeopardy of closing before it officially reopens.

Outside Grace H. Dodge Career and Technical High School at 2474 Crotona Avenue in the Bronx, the staff sat outside for a short time Monday morning before returning to the classroom.

Teachers have now been back to work for one week, getting ready for the arrival of students in one week.

Eyewitness News spoke to some teachers who said the city has not alerted them of the positive cases and they have not been contacted by tracers after coming into contact with positive cases.

The mayor said 98% of the coronavirus test results are back within 48 hours.

Mayor de Blasio also said that the positivity rate is at 0.32%.

"Some people will test positive," he said. "Those folks will immediately get support."

After two weeks, those professionals who test positive will come back to work and they will complete the school year, the mayor said. The same will happen with students.

"We have to remember that for the small percentage of people who test positive it is a very temporary reality," de Blasio said.

There is free priority testing for all students and Department of Education employees throughout the city.

There are 22 priority testing sites at H+H facilities in all five boroughs.

You can find a location near you at

There is also a DOE COVID Response Situation Room to monitor cases. It includes a direct hotline for principals, test and trace officials, and will be open six days a week with daily public reporting.

The mayor also announced that 2,000 additional educators will be in place by the first day of school. They are made up of redeployed central staff, long-term substitutes, and temporary staff.

The Principals' union released the following statement in response:

"The 2,000 additional teachers the Mayor referenced in his press conference today is woefully short of the over 10,000 teachers that we estimate New York City principals have already requested. We urge the DOE to be transparent with the public about their citywide tally of principals' requests, so we can have a realistic conversation of what is truly needed to open schools successfully next week. Since the DOE first announced the irresponsible agreement they made regarding the instructional staffing of teachers, CSA has sounded the alarm that our City must somehow contend with the staffing crisis they have created. Principals do not have enough money in their school budgets to hire who they need, and the City is also facing a fiscal crisis. As a result, superintendents have told far too many principals that their staffing requests simply will not be met. There is now a week to go before students return to schools, and the City and DOE clearly have no comprehensive plan to fully staff our schools."

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