Elementary School in Williamsburg Reports Positive Coronavirus Case Just As City Closes Schools

PS 132 Photo courtesy of Ben Weiss

A teacher at P.S. 132, an elementary school in Williamsburg, tested positive for coronavirus this past weekend, a day before Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that all city schools will be closed until at least April 20th.

“I am writing to inform you that the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has confirmed a positive case of COVID-19 for a teacher in our school,” said the school’s principal in an email to parents.

The city’s Department of Education (DOE) neither confirmed the case nor specified whether the teacher contracted the virus while traveling abroad or through community transmission. “The City is no longer confirming information about individual cases,” said Danielle Filson, a spokesperson for the DOE, in an email.

The teacher had called out sick on March 6th and had not reported for work the past week, detailed the school’s principal. 

The teacher received a positive test on Saturday evening, said Kim Gabriel, a former head of P.S. 132’s Parents Teachers Association, in an interview. The administration then told all staff on Sunday morning that a teacher in the school had tested positive. 

However, at that moment, the DOE instructed staff members to keep quiet. “There was direct guidance not to tell the parents,” said Gabriel, who had spoken with a teacher at P.S. 132 about the situation. 

The school only notified families in the morning of March 16. Meanwhile, community members saw posts yesterday on social media of workers in hazmat suits outside the building as they performed a mandatory deep clean.

“Having it be so close to us is obviously very scary,” said a parent who lives in Williamsburg  and whose child attends P.S. 132. “However, it’s foolish to think that this scenario is only playing out in our school.”

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