NYC schools stay open, deputies break up illegal fight club

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NEW YORK (AP) — New York City school buildings remained open on Monday as the city's coronavirus test results stayed under the limit that would force a shutdown.

Meanwhile, the city's sheriff's deputies stayed busy enforcing virus rules, clamping down on several big, underground night spots over the weekend, including a fight club in the Bronx that drew as many as 200 people.

And statewide, the virus continued to claim victims at a rate unseen since the spring. Nearly 2,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Sunday, the state announced. That's the most since early June, up from a low of 410 on Sept. 5.

Over the past seven days, the state has averaged 4,500 positive tests per day. The state’s hospitals and nursing homes have reported 185 deaths over the past seven days.

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NEW YORK CITY SCHOOLS

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city has, so far, stayed under a benchmark of no more than 3% of the COVID-19 tests performed in the city coming back positive. The latest figure of 2.77% is just under that limit, de Blasio said.

"Today New York City schools are open,” the Democratic mayor said in his daily briefing. “Tomorrow they will be open as well. We’ve got a fight ahead to keep them open. But I’m not giving up and you shouldn’t give up either. Every day that we can keep our schools open is a blessing for our children and our families.”

About 280,000 of the city's 1 million-plus public school students are attending school in person part of the time, while the rest are learning remotely five days a week.

Since the start of in-person learning, about 980 students and 1,150 teachers and staff have tested positive for the virus, forcing the temporary closure of about 550 classrooms.

Asked if the city should be flexible about the 3% threshold, de Blasio said, “We set a standard. We asked everyone to trust it and believe in it. It’s important to keep consistency with that.”

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FIGHT CLUB BUSTED

Deputy New York City sheriffs enforcing COVID-19 crowd limits broke up an amateur fight night event in a Bronx warehouse late Friday, where they said about 200 people crowded together cheering the two combatants.

The unsanctioned fight would have been illegal even before the coronavirus pandemic, but risked becoming a public health threat as infections are rising around the state. The size of the crowd far exceeded the state’s limit on nonessential gatherings of 10 people, authorities said.

Ten fight club organizers and promoters were arrested on charges including liquor law violations and holding an event for a prohibited sport.

Early Saturday morning, deputies broke up an illegal “bottle service club” in Brooklyn where more than 185 people had gathered. Three organizers were charged with misdemeanors.

The same morning a similar bust of another underground club was made in Manhattan, where more than 200 people were gathered. Four organizers were charged.

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POLL WORKERS INFECTED

A central New York county has paused counting absentee ballots until Nov. 30 as a third of election workers have tested positive for COVID-19.

Onondaga County elections commissioner Dustin Czarny, a Democrat, said Monday that eight of 26 staffers have tested positive. All staffers are in quarantine for two weeks, and the elections office is closed for a week.

“That’s a devastating blow operationally,” he said. He said it's unclear how election workers contracted the virus.

Czarny said the plan is to allow some essential personnel who test negative to return to the office next week to start preparing to count the remaining 30,000 ballots.

He hopes to provide the state with a partial certification for presidential ballot results by Nov. 28 and finish counting the remaining ballots by early December, when New York is set to certify its election results.


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