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School Year Gets Off To Rocky Start With Students, Teachers Testing Positive For COVID-19 Throughout Tri-State Area

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- In New York City, classes haven't even started, but the United Federation of Teachers says already the voluntary tests of at least 16 staff members have come back positive.

An open letter from teachers in Brooklyn spells out how they say the city has failed them. MS 88 in Park Slope had the first positive coronavirus test of the new school year.

Teachers call what happened in a short time a "dress rehearsal for disaster for our school communities."

They say at 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 7, teachers got an email encouraging all staff to get tested. The first day they were to be in school was the next day -- Sept. 8.

On Sept. 9, staff was told to work remotely after a test came back positive.

The United Federation of Teachers says it was assured by the city the test results would come back within 24-48 hours, but says results have been delayed. Union leaders say expect that positive number to increase daily, and in-person learning doesn't even begin until Sept. 21.


In Chatham, New Jersey, in-person learning started just this Tuesday, but it was apparently too good to be true.

"It's a little nerve-wracking, to be honest. It's a little scary," Chatham High School student Josie Press said.

"I was kind of surprised," student Lindsay Iaquinta said.

Surprised that even with all the precautions and reminders to wear masks, wash hands and keep a social distance, the high school is going all remote for Thursday and Friday after one student who was in school the first day tested positive for COVID-19.

"I know they were closing it for today and tomorrow ... and they were just seeing how it played out," Josie said.

The superintendent's letter says two other high school students who were not in school also have the virus, adding, "I recognize the emergence of COVID-19 cases so early in the school year is unsettling and upsetting."

The local health department is working to track down anyone who may have been exposed to the positive high school students. The superintendent is hoping to resume in-person classes on Monday.

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