Originally posted on Chalkbeat by Alex Zimmerman on March 24, 2020
A Brooklyn principal who worked in the same building as another school leader who died from the new coronavirus is now hospitalized, city officials said Tuesday.
Ronda Phillips, the principal of Kappa V High School in Brownsville, was admitted to the hospital and is being treated for pneumonia, the education department confirmed. She most recently reported to the school building on Thursday, the final day of training for teachers learning how to conduct lessons remotely.
“Our thoughts are with Principal Phillips and her family for a speedy recovery, and we’ll support the school community in every way we can,” Miranda Barbot, an education department spokesperson, said in a statement.
The department emphasized it was “not confirmed” that Phillips has the coronavirus, however, officials have said they will no longer confirm cases when employees or students are infected.
Some educators said the city’s decision to stop informing school communities about positive cases has created panic, forcing them to take it upon themselves to inform others who may have been exposed to the virus.
The education department has stopped confirming cases because the “Health Department advised that a positive case in the school or workplace environment did not put others at higher risk than did anywhere else in the city,” Barbot said.
Phillips’ hospitalization was first reported by the New York Post. City officials said they are notifying the school community of Phillips’ hospitalization Tuesday evening.
The principal of Brooklyn Democracy Academy — which shares a building with Kappa V — died due to complications related to the coronavirus this week.
Dez-Ann Romain, the principal of Brooklyn Democracy Academy, last reported to the building on March 12. Officials said the school was repeatedly “deep cleaned” beginning the same day. Romain was admitted to the hospital on March 18, officials said.
The building on Rockaway Avenue is home to four schools that serve roughly 1,500 students, according to the most recent data available, and have now seen at least two cases of the coronavirus, not including Phillips.
There have been almost 15,600 confirmed coronavirus cases in New York City as of Tuesday afternoon and 192 people have died, city figures show.
A teacher tested positive for the virus at Leadership Prep Brownsville Elementary Academy, a charter school in the Uncommon network that shares the building, said Barbara Martinez, a network spokesperson. That teacher started showing symptoms on March 15. The network had closed all of its school buildings two days earlier.
“We immediately informed our staff and families of that case,” Martinez wrote in an email. “The teacher was not hospitalized, and is at home in quarantine and recovering.”
Metropolitan Diploma Plus High School also shares the building. That school, like Democracy Academy, is a transfer school that serves students who have struggled at traditional high schools and are unlikely to graduate on time.
Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.