All Nassau and Suffolk county schools are closed for the next two weeks starting Monday as the number of coronavirus cases on Long Island rose to 145 amid the pandemic, officials announced Sunday.
Nassau had 98 cases and Suffolk had 47 as of Sunday afternoon, according to New York State officials, who reported the third coronavirus-related death in the state and cases statewide reached 729. Cases nationwide topped 3,000 amid the national emergency.
“There is evidence that the virus is already present in many communities we serve, and our efforts now must be aimed at preventing its spread,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said. “As part of our larger social distancing efforts, we believe that closing schools is the right thing to do at this time. While kids are home from school we encourage parents to continue to follow County Health Department guidance and practice social distancing and to wash hands frequently to help contain the spread of the virus.”
Officials said there are plans are being developed to provide childcare for essential service workers, such as police officers, firefighters, and healthcare providers. Plans are also being developed to continue meal programs for children who receive breakfast and lunch through their schools. And in the works are also plans for internet-based instruction to mitigate the disruption to education.
“While schools are closed for instruction, administrators and teachers will still have access to school buildings for local district planning, distance-based education purposes, temporary grab-and-go meal programs, and childcare issues,” Bellone said.
Bellone and Nassau County Executive Laura Curran made the call to shut schools after a string of local school districts had been canceling classes for days, sometimes weeks at a time whenever coronavirus patients were confirmed in the schools’ communities. The blanket school declaration for all LI schools increased pressure on New York City school leaders to follow suit.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo had been cautioning against the idea of school closures in the city, but came around to the idea Sunday, as long as it doesn’t mean medics and police will be stuck home without a babysitter.