What to Know
- Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Brooklyn, which includes 69 elementary schools in Brooklyn and Queens, announced Thursday that students, faculty, and staff members must wear masks when the new school year starts.
- School officials will continue to encourage vaccinations, social distancing, hand washing and hand hygiene, while maintaining the rigorous daily cleaning and sanitizing of facilities as well as enhanced ventilation.
- This latest development comes as coronavirus cases of the delta variant continue to increase at an alarming rate.
Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Brooklyn, which includes 69 elementary schools in Brooklyn and Queens, announced Thursday that students, faculty, and staff members must wear masks when the new school year starts.
This latest mandate will be in addition to other coronavirus guidelines that the Diocese of Brooklyn schools will adopt. School officials will continue to encourage vaccinations, social distancing, hand washing and hand hygiene, while maintaining the rigorous daily cleaning and sanitizing of facilities as well as enhanced ventilation.
The dioceses also states that parents will be reminded to keep their child home from school if they are sick, and their child will be required to receive medical clearance from a healthcare provider that they can safely return to in-person instruction.
“As the numbers of Coronavirus cases continue to spike in children, and the overall numbers of hospitalizations in New York City are on the rise, this is the most responsible approach to take when we begin the new school year. I know the return to these safety measures is not the situation parents, teachers or students were hoping to be the case in the 2021-2022 school year, but we cannot ignore the trends,” said Superintendent Dr. Thomas Chadzutko.
Although there is currently no mask mandate for New York public schools (the state is letting local districts dictate their own guidelines), governor-to-be Kathy Hochul waded Thursday -- tentatively -- into the quickly intensifying debate on COVID and schools, saying that while she's not governor yet, it's her "opinion" that everyone in schools, students and staff alike, should be wearing masks.
"My view is that ... people will be, children and everyone in a school environment, will be wearing masks. That's just an opinion right now, I don't have the authority to make that the policy.
"I believe that there'll end up being mask mandates, I just don't have the authority at this moment."
This latest development comes as coronavirus cases of the delta variant continue to increase at an alarming rate.
Hospitalizations among unvaccinated people have been soaring nationally and locally amid this delta-driven wave of the pandemic. In New York, total hospitalizations are at 1,367 as of the latest update, a 73% increase just since Aug. 1.
The number of COVID patients in intensive care units has more than tripled in a month and is up 78% percent since Aug. 1, state data shows. Daily statewide death tolls have been in the double digits for four straight days after a lengthy streak in the low single digits.
In New York City, the one-time epicenter of the pandemic, delta accounts for at least 83% of all positive samples sequenced, but that data is updated weekly on Fridays. If recent trends hold, that number could well top 90% when the next update comes.
All five counties that comprise New York City are considered "high transmission" areas by the CDC, with more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people in the last week. The same holds true for 10 of New Jersey's 21 counties and a quarter of those in Connecticut, where an increasing number of cities and towns are renewing mask rules.
About 77% of all U.S. counties in America now fall into that high transmission category as well, an almost 13 percentage point increase in the last seven days and an alarming statistic for a country that appeared on the verge of cracking the pandemic's back just a few months ago. Hospitals in hotspots are finding themselves strained again.