Public and private schools in Brooklyn and Queens ZIP codes with high COVID-19 positivity rates will shut down in-person learning and move to 100% remote learning, starting on Tuesday. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the decision on Monday, a day after Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed the move to mitigate the spiking spread of the coronavirus in those neighborhoods.

The mayor had requested state approval to close schools in nine ZIP codes in Brooklyn and Queens, which would include 100 public schools and 200 private schools, in addition to closing non-essential businesses on Tuesday. Cuomo said on Monday that he spoke to de Blasio, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Teachers' Federation, before his press conference to discuss the decision.

"I would not going to or recommend any NYC family send their child to a school" in those areas, he said.

Under de Blasio's proposal, the schools would go all-remote for at least two weeks in the following neighborhoods where positivity rates range from 3% to over 8%: Borough Park (11219), Gravesend (11223), Midwood (11230), Bensonhurst (11204), Flatlands (11210), Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay (11229) in Brooklyn; and Far Rockaway (11691), Kew Gardens (11415), Kew Gardens Hills (11367) in Queens.

The map above shows where Mayor de Blasio recommends shutdowns of schools and all non-essential businesses, or partial shutdowns of high-risk activities like indoor dining, gyms, and pools.

Outside PS 217 in Midwood—which would close under the mayor’s plan—on Monday morning, some parents said they hadn’t heard the news. Others called it whiplash inducing. 

“My view is that the cause for the potential closure is not within the schools, it’s within surrounding areas,” said Zach Bernstein. “I think it should be looked at more thoughtfully because it has an enormous impact on the students, to be going back and forth between different models, and it’s not the schools themselves that are causing the issue.” 

PS 217 in Midwood

Another parent, Miriam Coleman, said she’s glad officials are making decisions based on the rising case numbers. “I’m relieved that they are being responsive to it and they’re making that decision for us,” she said. “But all the indecision around it has been so frustrating.”

Other parents wondered about the effectiveness of the move given that so many students and staff commute in and out of the communities for school or jobs. Tazin Azad, a parent leader in the same Midwood zip code, has been advocating for fully remote learning across the system, and especially in the areas where cases are rising. “There’s no boundaries in how this virus operates,” she said, noting the geographic lines dividing ZIP code can’t contain COVID-19. 

Cuomo did allow that more schools might be added because some students in the hotspot schools could attend schools outside the nine ZIP codes. As for why he decided the schools should be closed on Tuesday, and not Wednesday as de Blasio had recommended, the governor said that Stringer, Johnson, and Mulgrew agreed schools should be closed as soon as possible.

De Blasio had proposed Wednesday in order to give children another day of in-person learning.

When asked if the issue stemmed from compliance issues at yeshivas in the Orthodox community, de Blasio said this morning on CNN, "I think it is bigger issue across these nine ZIP codes that really have a wide range, diverse range of New Yorkers in them. We have to get people into the basic practice of wearing masks, socially distancing, really following the rules that have worked... I know we can do it in these nine ZIP codes, but I think this is something where people have to remember, again, those rules work and we have to be devoted to them."

De Blasio will hold a press conference at 1:15 p.m on Monday.

This article has been updated to reflect that it's unclear how many schools will be closed.