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Number of COVID-19 cases in NYC schools grows to 2,400

Number of COVID-19 cases in NYC schools grows to 2,400

The number of public-school students and staff testing positive for COVID-19 since September has risen to 2,400, the latest data show.

The tally includes all test results reported to the Department of Education’s “Situation Room,” which monitors COVID-19 cases.

That count, while climbing steadily, still represents a low test-positivity rate of .20, based on the one million students enrolled in the school system, and 150,000 teachers and other staffers it employs, officials said.

The 2,400 who have tested positive since Sept. 14 include 1,092 students and 1,308 school workers. The vast majority obtained the results from city test sites, health-care facilities and private labs.

The total includes some students and staff who learned or worked entirely online, officials said. Others who came to school triggered the temporary closure of hundreds of classrooms or buildings — and the quarantining of those they exposed. The DOE has never revealed the number quarantined.

Among the 2,400, just 138 students and 198 staffers –a total of 336 — tested positive after taking part in the DOE’s  in-school testing program.

That’s out of 155,763 tests conducted in 4,320 schools — a .23 positivity rate, the DOE says. The system has more than 1,700 schools.

Teachers say the in-school testing program is insufficient and flawed.

“The DOE testing is not random. It’s self selective,” said Arthur Goldstein, a teacher at Francis Lewis High School in Queens.

Teachers are asked to volunteer to be tested, he said. “The people who don’t want things stuck up their nose don’t get tested at all.”

Members of DC-37 Local 372,  which represents school kitchen workers and other aides, are not required to be tested, although the union encourages it, The Post confirmed. It’s unclear how much contact these workers have with kids and teachers.

“It is the expectation that all DOE staff participate in in-school testing,” the DOE said.

Teachers in citywide District 75 schools for children with disabilities say their students have not been tested at all. Many of these children have difficulty wearing masks and social distancing.

A DOE spokesman had no response.

Most parents have still resisted letting the DOE test their kids outside their presence.

The number of students whose parents or guardians have signed consent forms rose to 117,000 this week, but that’s still less than half the kids enrolled in blended learning, and come to schools one to three days a week.

The DOE has not pressed parents to sign the consent forms, said Karen Vaites, whose daughter attends a Manhattan elementary school. Her ex-husband, who received the form the first week of school in September, did not return it.

But neither the school nor the DOE has since asked for it, she said. Her school only sent a reminder in a school newsletter to all parents.

Karen Vaites and daughter her Alice, a third-grader DOE NYC schools
Karen Vaites and daughter her Alice, a third-grader.

“I believe a lot more parents would be returning forms and giving permission if the schools were more proactive about follow-up,” Vaites said. “We planned to return our form, but can’t now that schools are closed.”

Mayor de Blasio abruptly closed schools Thursday after the citywide COVID-19 test positivity rate hit 3 percent on a rolling 7-day average. All instruction went remote.

He has not set a threshold or criteria for when schools can reopen again, but has emphasized that beefing up the testing program will be key.

“We need to come up with even more stringent rules to make schools work and testing is going to be absolutely crucial,” the mayor said.

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Evan Lewis

With a knack for storytelling, Evan started News Brig about a year ago. Covering substantial topics under the Sports,, he helps information seep in deeper with creative writing and content management skills.

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