Parents gather outside Gravesend school, ask why it remains closed

October 9, 2020 Jaime DeJesus
Parents gather outside Gravesend school, ask why it remains closed
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Local parents were outraged by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to keep several schools closed despite being included in the yellow zone of the COVID-19 Cluster Action Initiative.

Elected officials, parents and their children stood outside P.S. 682, the Academy of Talented Scholars, 50 Avenue P, to urge the school to reopen.

Earlier this month, several schools closed under de Blasio’s zip code designation. Then, under the new map and website released on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 16 schools that are in the yellow zone, including P.S. 682, won’t reopen until Wednesday, Oct. 21, even though schools in the yellow zone are supposed to remain open.

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Parents discussed the importance of in-person learning if the area is safe.

“The parents and staff members at P.S. 682, along with 15 other schools, have had to adapt to late breaking news resulting in soul breaking changes,” said parent Sandy Chum Wu. “Changes that we have had to accept with little to no clarity or reasoning.  Why has our campus been ordered to remain closed despite being in the yellow zone and having zero reported cases?”

Photo courtesy of State Senator Andrew Gounardes.

Another parent, Michelle Okabayashi, added that the Gravesend school is one of the few in the borough that offers the Nest program, an inclusion program for children on the autism spectrum.

“This unnecessary closure moves many of these children further from their goals and erases progress made over months and years prior to March,” she said. “After four days of frequent and conflicting directives, here we stand in front of our school, which sits empty.”

De Blasio was asked about this confusing situation during his conference on Thursday, Oct. 8.

“There are some schools that were in our original list of closures because our data, then based on ZIP codes, said it was important to close the schools in those areas to protect against a resurgence,” he said. “We’re going to keep those schools closed too, because the city believes fundamentally those schools have to be closed as part of the overall strategy.”

State Sen. Andrew Gounardes was one of those who spoke during the event.

“Families with schools in the yellow zones have been caught in a back-and-forth between the mayor and the governor and are having their lives dictated not by reasons, facts or logic but by meaningless bureaucracy and power plays,” he said.

“Schools in yellow zones are supposed to remain open — unless the city says they can’t?” asked Councilmember Justin Brannan. “What kind of plan is that? We need reasons, not rules. If we’re going to keep our kids and teachers safe and prevent a second wave, now more than ever, we need clarity, consistency, and common sense.”

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