NYC DOE tight-lipped about coronavirus cases among educators

Following the deaths of a principal and a teacher, the city Department of Education still refuses to release a tally of employees who have caught coronavirus.

School principals have been required to internally report students or staff absent because of COVID-19 or its symptoms, The Post learned.

But DOE officials won’t make the numbers public.

“We are determining how best to collect this information in one place,” said DOE spokeswoman Miranda Barbot.

It’s unclear why the department is keeping the data secret while the FDNY, NYPD and other city agencies have released regular updates on the number of members out sick with suspected or confirmed cases.

DOE principals have been directed to report COVID-19 cases to a central office, and file reports in the DOE’s Online Occurrence Reporting System, or OORS, records show.

Brooklyn principal Dezann Romain, 36, died from the virus March 23, the same day school buildings were closed to staff and students. That week, another principal in the same building, Ronda Phillips, 48, landed in the ICU.

Last week, Sandra Santos-Vizcaino, a dual-language teacher at PS 9 in Prospect Heights, died at age 54.

Teachers have complained that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s late decision to close the schools likely spread the virus to staff, students and their families.

While school buildings closed, online instruction continues — and attendance must be taken.

The concern about unreported cases is especially pressing now, as workers at 435 schools across the city prepare and hand out “grab-and-go” meals to anyone who wants them.

A number of workers who handled food and packaging have fallen ill, staffers told The Post.

“Many of these workers suffer from underlying conditions, they really are risking their health by reporting to work,” said a manager who is home sick with the virus.

On Thursday, Councilman Robert Holden posted a Facebook message saying he learned a cafeteria worker at PS/IS 49 in Middle Village — one of the meal sites — tested positive for COVID-19.

After Holden called the DOE,  the school closed two days for cleaning, he said.

But the councilman remains concerned the virus will spread as people line up to get the bagged meals — breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“I believe the DOE should stop the grab-and-go model, and instead partner with Meals on Wheels and other delivery organizations to bring meals right to the homes of families who request it,” Holden wrote. “This will keep more people inside and lessen the risk of further spreading the coronavirus.”

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