After being open only a week, a city public school in East Harlem is the first to cancel in-person classes, after a COVID-19 outbreak among staffers.
Nineteen people tested positive as of Friday at P.S. 79 on East 120th Street, prompting officials to switch over to remote education, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer tweeted.
“My understanding is there are enough cases of COVID that the [Department of Education COVID-19] Situation Room has decided to close the school for 10 days until Sept. 28,” Brewer told The Post.
In addition to 19 “confirmed” cases, 45 others were quarantined, the City Council’s education chair, Mark Treyger, added.
The DOE said all of the cases were among staff.
“The health and safety of our school communities is our top priority, and we do not hesitate to intervene to stop the spread. We follow stringent guidance from health experts to prevent any further transmission by quarantining close contacts, closing classrooms, and, if necessary, entire buildings. Learning will continue during quarantine and we will provide the school resources and support to have a successful school year,” DOE rep Nathaniel Styer said in a statement.
P.S. 79 is part of District 75, which provides specialized services to students with disabilities.
“Mask wearing has been a challenge for students, particularly those with sensory issues,” Brewer said in another tweet.
P.S. 79 “serves over 250 students grades 7-12 […] mainly of learners with autism, intellectual disabilities, or multiple challenges,” according to Insideschools.org.”
It is the first and only school that the DOE has temporarily closed for 10 days so far due to the spread of COVID-19, according to the DOE’s case map.
Across the city’s traditional public schools, 372 classrooms were fully closed and 303 were partially closed as of Friday, according to the tracker. There were 812 total cases of COVID-19 between Sept. 13 and 17– 487 students and 325 staff.