New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio kept many parents and teachers in suspense this past weekend, about whether public schools would close and move to remote learning or if they might remain open. Mayor de Blasio made it quite clear that if the rolling-rate of COVID-19 cases reaches 3 percent, then all city schools will close.
The mayor on Sunday, Nov. 15 informed parents that schools will be open after the rolling rate dropped from 2.83 percent to 2.47 percent. At the same time, the Catholic Schools and Academies of the Diocese of Brooklyn, after taking into consideration all of the different factors involved, decided that they will not go to complete remote learning, even if the New York City public schools were to close.
One person who was very much against de Blasio’s plan to close the public schools was New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, who commented that not all schools should close if the overall infection rate rises above the threshold.
Governor Cuomo stated: “The infection rate in the schools is much lower than the rest of the city and the rest of the community. Why not leave the children in the schools rather than have them run around the streets where the infection rate is five times as high?”
He then added: “What I’m suggesting to the parents and the teachers and the mayor is, let’s take a second calculus which is the infection rate in the school. We know New York City is at three percent. Let’s add an element of the infection rate in the school and if the school is below a certain threshold, let that school reopen. But the parents and the teachers have to agree. There is no fiat here.”
Wise thinking from the Governor, right? With this in mind, using the same logic, why won’t the Governor allow Churches in the “red zones” to be open for regular worship?
The churches and chapels of the Diocese of Brooklyn, here in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, have taken the proper precautions. The pastors, priests, and the pastoral staff of our parishes have been diligent in all safety precautions.
Time and resources have been spent making the necessary steps and, to be very honest, the infection rates that can be traced to Roman Catholic Churches in the Diocese of Brooklyn, even in the “red zones,” are practically non-existent.
If the Governor of New York thinks that his plan is proper for the New York City public schools, why does he not apply the same logic to the plight of our parishes?
This is only, as we say in the preface dialogue of the Eucharistic Prayer of Holy Mass, a prayer which so many of our people long to hear again in person, “right and just.”
As Bishop DiMarzio recently said while commenting on the closure of churches in the red zones, “the core issue for the state is that churches are considered ‘non-essential’ services, just as movie theatres, bowling alleys, and other such services where larger gatherings of people come together.
But non-essential services, however, are not protected by the Constitution of the United States which says, ‘the right to practice his or her own religion, or no religion at all.’