Southern Brooklyn

Diocese wants Cuomo to keep its schools and churches open in COVID hot zones

October 7, 2020 Jaime DeJesus
Diocese wants Cuomo to keep its schools and churches open in COVID hot zones
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The Diocese of Brooklyn is asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reconsider his plan to close four of its schools and limit church attendance in COVID-19 hotspots.

The affected schools are St. Athanasius Catholic Academy in Bensonhurst, Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy in Gravesend, Good Shepherd Catholic Academy in Marine Park and

St. Edmund Elementary School in Sheepshead Bay.

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According to the diocese, there has been only one confirmed COVID-19 case out of an enrollment of 1,070 at the four schools.

“This decision by the governor clearly fails to take into account the positive progress our diocesan school system has made so far this school year,” said Dr. Tom Chadzutko, superintendent. “It is unconscionable to think that after the many sacrifices our staff, students and parents have made, and in spite of our almost non-existent infection rate, the governor has decided to force our four schools to close. The governor should delay the order related to our schools and visit each one before holding firm to his decision.”

Cuomo said it was important to keep schools in the hot zones closed for at least two weeks to prevent a potential spread.

“All the kids go to different schools, I know, but they meet at the playground or they’re on the little league team or they’re on the hockey team or they went to somebody’s birthday party and they interacted,” Cuomo said. “You will very often see the schools be a place of transmission. If two students interact at a birthday party on a Friday night and then go to school, they then bring it home to their parents and now we’re off to the races again.”

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio expressed frustration with the plan to limit some churches to 25 percent capacity and said Catholic churches have been following all the guidelines for social distancing.

“It is outrageous that after incurring great expense to implement all the safety protocols, our parishes are being forced to reduce capacity to a maximum of 10 people in the red zone and 25 people in the orange zone,” DiMarzio said. “To think that some of our churches have the capacity to hold a thousand people for Mass, a capacity range of 10 to 25 people is disrespectful to Catholics and to the clergy who all have followed the rules and, as such, have prevented a spike in COVID cases within the confines of the hot zones.”

Churches will have to adhere to limited capacity in orange and red zones starting Thursday, Oct. 8.

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