Good Morning, Brooklyn: Wednesday, December 29, 2021
‘MULTI-PRONGED’ APPROACH TO SCHOOLS’ REOPENING: The city’s public schools will be opening following winter break with a “multi-pronged approach” to keeping students safe and healthy, announced outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio, Mayor-Elect Eric Adams, Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter, and Incoming Schools Chancellor David Banks at a joint press conference on Tuesday. The Department of Education is strongly encouraging all eligible students to get vaccinated, and all students and staff should get tested prior to the resumption of classes on January 3. The DOE will double the in-school surveillance testing program and deploy millions of at-home rapid tests to allow students to continue learning in school.
These measures, which include the addition of city-run testing sites this week are in addition to the multi-layered approach to health and safety that officials assert has kept positivity rates in schools low and has successfully limited the spread of COVID-19 in schools—making them some of the safest places for students and staff to be during the pandemic.
POLAR BEAR PLUNGE RETURNS: Coney Island is preparing to dive into the New Year with the 119th Annual Coney Island Polar Bear Club New Year’s Day Plunge. This longstanding and beloved event returns for an in-person plunge this Saturday, January 1.
Partnering with the Alliance for Coney Island and with the support of sponsors, Coney Island Hospital and Liberty Coca-Cola, the 119th Annual Coney Island Polar Bear Club New Year’s Day Plunge is also a fundraiser for local nonprofits to help ensure the growth and livelihood of their iconic community.
UPGRADES TO BUS PLAZA IN WILLIAMSBURG: The Metropolitan Transit Authority plans to upgrade the existing electric bus charger at the Williamsburg Bridge Bus Plaza, according to an announcement distributed by the MTA and Brooklyn Community Board 1. Among the upgrades: two enclosures that house the electrical equipment will be re-used, will retain their current external appearance, and will remain in their current locations. Bollards will also be installed along the exit ramp from the Williamsburg Bridge to Roebling Street, to protect one of the enclosures from any vehicular incidents.
This technological upgrade is necessary to meet current standards so that the charger will work with all electric buses that NYC Transit may operate in the foreseeable future.
MISTRUST OF COVID VACCINE STILL PREVALENT: Fifteen percent of Americans remain unvaccinated, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Census Bureau. As of December 14, roughly 85% of adults ages 18 and over in the United States had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine but 15% remained unvaccinated. Among the “unvaccinated” (those who have not yet received a first dose) who responded to the survey could select more than one reason, with about half reporting that they were concerned about possible side effects of the vaccine, and 42% reported that they “don’t trust the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Two percent of respondents reported difficulty obtaining the vaccine as the reason for not receiving it.
STUDENTS RAISE FUNDS TO HELP EACH OTHER: Brooklyn College’s Undergraduate Student Government raised about $40,000 during 2021 to assist their classmates. The fundraising kept going into GivingTuesday, when the college raised $157,000, the highest total the college has ever raised on the annual day of “global generosity.”
“We wanted to help as many Brooklyn College students as possible,” said USG Chief of Staff Aharon Grama.
GOLDWATER SCHOLARSHIPS: Two Brooklyn College students, psychology major Patrick Ihejirika, and Abiha Kazmi, a biology and sociology double major, were named 2021 Goldwater Scholars. They became only the second and third Brooklyn College students to win the award, one of the country’s most prestigious awards for undergraduate students who want to go into research in science, math, or engineering.
The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Senator Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years in the U.S. Another CUNY school, LaGuardia Community College (Queens) also produced an awardee in the life sciences and conservation biology field.
BROOKLYN COLLEGE PROFESSOR WINS A TONY: Brooklyn College Associate Professor for Performance Justin Townsend won the Tony Award in 2021 for Best Lighting Design of a Musical for his work on Moulin Rouge!
“We are so fortunate to have such incredible artistic talent contributing to our social conscious among our faculty, students, and alumni who have made Brooklyn College’s Theater Department one of the best in New York City,” said Maria Conelli, the dean of the School of Visual, Media and Performing Arts.
FIRST FOSSIL EVIDENCE OF PRIMATES: Brooklyn College’s Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Stephen Chester was part of a discovery of the first fossil evidence of any primate. His research posits what happened 66 million years ago, following the mass extinction that wiped out all dinosaurs and led to the rise of mammals.
Chester said, “It adds to our understanding of how the earliest primates separated themselves from their competitors.”
IPS NEWS: NEW JUDICIAL APPOINTMENT OF BROOKLYN LAW ALUMNUS: Hon. Adam Silvera has been appointed as Administrative Judge for the State Supreme Court-Civil Term in New York County. Judge Silvera’s judicial career began with his 2014 election to the New York City Civil Court. He initially served as a New York City Family Court judge in Brooklyn, and was later assigned to the New York City Civil Court bench in Brooklyn, presiding over a dedicated consumer credit and self-represented part.
Judge Silvera’s new role has him succeeding Hon. Deborah A. Kaplan, who was named Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for the New York City Courts in October 2021 and has since been serving in both capacities.
IPS NEWS: ANOTHER TESTING LAB REBUKED: Just a week after having to rebuke two COVID testing laboratories for delayed results, New York Attorney General Letitia James on Tuesday issued another warning letter, this time to ClearMD Solutions. Brooklynites who utilize this private lab with locations in Manhattan and Queens should be aware that ClearMD was chastised after Attorney General James was made aware of consumers who paid for expedited test results but did not receive their results in those guaranteed timeframes.
The attorney general has notified ClearMD that New York law prohibits false advertising, instructs the company to immediately update the company’s website and any signage at test sites to accurately reflect how long individuals can expect to wait before receiving COVID-19 test results and demands refunds for all consumers who paid for expedited test results but did not receive them in the timeframe initially promised.
IPS NEWS: MORE HEATING COST ASSISTANCE: Governor Kathy Hochul has announced a substantial year-over-year increase in available emergency home heating aid, with more than $90 million in federal funding available to help low- and middle-income New Yorkers avoid having their home heating disconnected or exhausting their heating source amid fuel price increases this winter. The state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance/Home Energy Assistance Program will begin accepting emergency benefit applications starting Monday, January 3, for those New Yorkers who have already used up their regular benefit and who are now facing a heating emergency.
The emergency benefit amount per household has been increased by at least 32 percent, and upward of 42 percent, depending on the type of heating fuel used for the household. A home heated with natural gas will now be eligible for $465, a 32.8 percent increase over last year’s benefit; while a home using oil, kerosene or propane will be eligible for $965, a 42.9 percent increase over the prior year.
IPS NEWS: FDNY PROMOTIONS: Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro presided over a promotion ceremony yesterday at the FDNY Training Academy on Randall’s Island. Deputy Assistant Chiefs Michael Meyers and Fred Schaaf have been promoted to Assistant Chief; and Supervising Fire Marshal Michael Kavanagh will be promoted to Assistant Chief Fire Marshal. Moreover, 16 Captains will be promoted to the rank of Battalion Chief, 30 Lieutenants will be promoted to the rank of Captain, and 30 Firefighters will be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.
The newly promoted members will be assigned to units throughout New York City.
IPS NEWS: NEW LAW BENEFITS CYCLISTS AND PEDESTRIANS: A new law that Gov. Kathy Hochul signed yesterday requires the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to develop a strategic plan to promote cycling and pedestrian access on its bridges and at its passenger station, and to consider bicycle and pedestrian access in its capital plans. The MTA must create a plan to encourage cycling and pedestrian access on MTA bridges, bike parking at MTA subway and commuter rail stations, and bike access on board MTA equipment.
Accordingly, the Long Island Rail Road Commuter’s Council, the Metro-North Rail Commuter’s Council, and the New York City Transit Authority Council will study bicycle and pedestrian access and provide recommendations to the MTA regarding such.
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