This Week So Far: Covid-19 In Schools, Century 21 Closing, 2021 Elections

COVID-19 testing outreach workers in Sunset Park last month. (Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

CENSUS: You have until September 30 to complete your census! NYC residents are woefully weary of being counted, so it seems, and the consequences will be significant, as for the next 10 years federal funds for things like public education, affordable housing, infrastructure – all of which we desperately need – will be allocated based on who gets counted, and we may end up losing more than one Congressional seat, we wrote last week. Please fill it out!

BUSINESS: Indoor dining will be opening up on September 30 with a 25% occupancy limit, Governor Cuomo announced yesterday. But it comes with strict restrictions that include getting temperature checked at the door and at least one member of the group providing the restaurant with contact information in case tracing is needed. Oh, and Century 21 will be closing all of its 13 stores and has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company said the failure to receive payment under its business interruption insurance left them with no choice.

SCHOOLS: NYC public schools are opening on September 16 for remote learning and then on September 21 for in-person sessions. NYC’s education department on Tuesday released room-level inspection reports for the ventilation systems at every single public school and found most classrooms are safe to reopen, but most school bathrooms are not, Chalkbeat reported.

And two teachers who returned to their school buildings on Tuesday have already tested positive for the coronavirus– both in Brooklyn at M.S. 88 and P.S. 1, Gothamist first reported. Teachers from one of those schools – MS88 – have published an open letter. “The city has failed us and, in turn, the public. What happened to us is a dress rehearsal for disaster for our school communities,” they write. Are your kids ready for school?

Speaking of schools, a group of Midwood residents have gone to court seeking an injunction to keep a charter school from operating out of the East Midwood Jewish Center — leaving faculty and students worried about the potentially ‘catastrophic’ consequences as they wait for the judge’s ruling,” the Brooklyn Paper reported this afternoon.

2021 ELECTIONS: NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer formally entered the race for mayor and was met with plenty of support from Brooklyn. What exactly is he planning to do? We’ve got you covered here. “For the neighborhoods that have been knocked down, for the people who have been priced out,” he said, “for the children who are this city’s future — I will bring leadership back to City Hall, and together, we will build a city for everyone.”

We then spoke to 29-year-old Alejandra Caraballo who just announced her run for City Council District 35. Originally from Florida, she moved to NYC about seven years ago to attend Brooklyn Law School. Once she graduated and came out as a transgender woman, she felt NYC was the best place to stay and didn’t want to leave. This city gave her an opportunity to be herself and live openly without fear, something she felt wasn’t possible where she grew up. And now, she’s running for office!

CRIME: Shootings and murders don’t seem to show any signs of slowing down. Labor Day weekend was met with shootings and a body found wrapped in a tarp on the roof of a building. Shootings have more than doubled across Brooklyn since last year, according to NYPD data. In fact, for the month of August 2020, there was a 166% increase in the number of shooting incidents across the city as the number of shootings rose in all boroughs except Staten Island. Just a few days ago, a new restaurant owner survived an armed robbery when the robber shot at him in close range, ABC7 reported.  And about two weeks ago, 18-year-old Malcolm Amede was shot and killed a block from Prospect Park. Another man, Sam Metcalfe, was also shot with him and survived. What’s the Mayor’s plan? Well, in July, he announced the Central Brooklyn Violence Prevention plan, which includes an increased police presence in the 77th and 79th precincts in Crown Heights and Bed- Stuy, peace marched by community/clergy members, Open Streets resource fairs, and mobile trauma units. Stay safe out there!

STREETS: People aren’t afraid of making their voices heard. Garbage, open dining, and private streets dominated the City Council’s Transportation Committee hearing yesterday, we reported, with garbage being the big issue. “Residents of a Bergen Beach community are calling on the city to step up and address mounds of garbage that they say are piling up in their neighborhood,” News 12 reported. “Neighbors say the illegal dumping is affecting their lives, home values, and sanitation — they say the piles of trash are bringing rats to their area. They say the dumping problem has worsened in the last couple of years.”

REAL ESTATE: The property owner who currently holds the title for New York City’s worst landlord is facing a tenant uprising at one of his distressed properties in Crown Heights. We reported that neighbors at 1616 President St. have banded together on a rent strike, refusing to make monthly payments to owner Jason Korn until he makes vital repairs to their building.

STREETS: Our streets aren’t safe for cyclists. Transportation Alternatives, a non-profit organization, told us 13 cyclists have been killed by drivers in NYC in 2020 so far. This includes two in Brooklyn just this week. Sarah Pitts, a senior assistant district attorney at Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez’s office, was killed riding her bike on Labor Day.  Tomorrow, September 11, there will be a march and vigil beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument in Fort Greene Park and ending at McCarren Park in memory of Pitts.

This morning, a 29-year-old cyclist died after a driver struck him as he was crossing Ocean Parkway and Avenue N. The driver’s vehicle, which is registered in New Jersey, has received five speed-camera summonses since June, Streetsblog reported. This comes a day after bike advocates rallied  “to demand better cycling infrastructure for pedal pushers looking to cross the East River — arguing the city’s transit honchos should repurpose car lanes on the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg bridges into bike lanes,” the Brooklyn Paper reported. 

“We call on NYPD Commissioner Shea to bring an end to the shameful practice of blaming traffic crash victims for their own deaths and exonerating drivers before crash investigations have been completed,” a statement by Transportation Alternatives said. “With the dramatic uptick in cyclist deaths in recent days, it’s clear that Mayor de Blasio must do more to bring an end to traffic violence. Especially now, as more commuters start heading back to work, children start heading back to schools, and bike ridership skyrockets, the mayor must work aggressively to advance a surface transportation plan and build a connected network of protected bike lanes across the five boroughs.”

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Zainab Iqbal

Zainab is a staff reporter at Bklyner who sometimes writes poetry in her free time || zainab@bklyner.com

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