New York Archdiocese closes all elementary schools, NYSPHSAA cancels winter sports championship games

Education. Catholic elementary school students will not be in class from March 16-20 due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak, the Archdiocese of New York announced Thursday afternoon.

12 Mar 2020 | 03:59

In a press release Thursday, Superintendent of Catholic Schools Michael Deegan said that all elementary schools in the system will be closed from March 16-20 due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

“Informed by expert health officials and the Health and Safety Task Force of the Office of the Superintendent of Schools, this decision was made out of an abundance of caution,” the release said. “The health and safety of our students, staff and families is of the utmost importance.”

In addition to classes, the Archdiocese said all activities, sporting events and practices are canceled as well.

“We are continuing to monitor the situation surrounding COVID-19 (Coronavirus). It is rapidly changing and we are closely following the advice of city, state and federal health officials,” the announcement said. “We truly understand that taking this action may cause some disruption to our families, but we strongly believe that these measures taken now will have the greatest success of decreasing risk to the whole community.”

The organization said that staff is prepared to offer students home-based learning to keep them engaged.

The release said people with questions can refer to its website for updates and links to best practices for staying healthy as well as links to the U.S. State Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization and other resources.

The Archdiocese has 200 schools that serve some 62,000 K-12 students in nine counties and three city boroughs, according to the organization

In addition to the Archdiocese closing schools, the New York state Public High School athletic association is also canceling winter sports championships in ice hockey, bowling, as well as boys and girls basketball.

In a press release Thursday, the NYSPHSAA announced that the championship games in its winter sports schedule are “indefinitely postponed.

“It is certainly understood that postponing the remaining winter state championships is disappointing, however the opportunity to participate in a NYSPHSAA championship event does not outweigh our responsibility and obligation to ensure students participate in a healthy and safe environment,” the announcement said.

The regional championships of ice hockey, bowling and basketball for girls and boys are impacted, the organization said.

“It was my goal to complete the winter championships on schedule. It has become increasingly more difficult to host these championship events with the number of challenges that have been presented,” NYSPHSAA Executive Director Dr. Robert Zayas said in the release.”I also have concerns as the Executive Director of NYSPHSAA and a parent, that students will be participating in an event under circumstances that are not conducive to a quality and beneficial participation experience.”