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Catholic School Parents, Students Protest Decision To Shut Down Schools In Coronavirus Hot Spots

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Students and parents are protesting Gov. Andrew Cuomo's decision to shut down Catholic schools in COVID-19 hot spot zip codes.

The superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Brooklyn called the move "unconscionable" at a rally Tuesday outside Good Shepherd Catholic Academy in Marine Park, CBS2's Andrew Grymes reported.

Schools were forced to close in zip codes with high coronavirus infection rates. Cuomo said not every public and private school in those neighborhoods had been tested and he didn't think it was safe for kids.


Students are not happy.

Sixth grader Jenna Lankford and her best friend, Stella Collins, said they were beyond disappointed when they found out their beloved school had to temporarily shut down in-person learning.

"I felt like I was gonna cry," Lankford said.

"I started like crying so much," Collins added.

Parents said the precautions the school had taken were more than enough to keep the doors open.

"Zip codes were created for mail, not for people," David Evans said. "Parents have contributed money in order to retrofit our school with dehumidifiers, air purifiers, ventilation, temperature checks, hygiene products, PPE."

"Honestly, at this point I'm more concerned for their mental health. I feel really safe sending them to school here. Everything has been the proper protocol from Day 1 since they opened," parent Katie Biscione said.

The superintendent said in the four Catholic schools affected by the shutdown, there had only been one COVID positive case.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city has gotten more than 1,300 test results from 35 schools in those zip codes and only two came back positive. He was asked, why close schools then?

"It just stands to reason that even though the schools were doing quite well, we just want to reduce the overall activity for a few weeks, hopefully, and really stop the spread quickly," he said Tuesday.

Cuomo said public and private schools are places of transmission, and they need to shut down to help put out the COVID-19 hot spots.

"All the kids go to different schools. I know. But they meet in the playground, or they are on the Little League team," Cuomo said.

The mayor said he hopes schools will be able to reopen for in-person learning within two to four weeks.

Parents said they will consider legal options if this school does not open soon.

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