The closure of some Hasidic schools in the middle of a COVID-19 cluster in the Hudson Valley will continue indefinitely due to the community’s unwillingness to adhere to state and county pandemic orders.
On Monday, Oct. 5, Orange County Health Commissioner Irina Gelman ordered schools in and around Kiryas Joel to stay closed for at least two weeks due to a spike in COVID-19 cases inside the cluster.
This week, Gelman said that the schools have not been following orders to report COVID-19 infections among students and staff members, while others have refused to close at all, in direct violation of orders issued by the county and state.
Inspectors also noted that not all students and staff members were wearing facial coverings during inspections, and there was a lack of social distancing during visits.
In total, the shutdown order impacts approximately 15,000 students inside the cluster. No date has been provided by officials for when schools would be permitted to reopen.
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Gelman said that Kiryas Joel's public school in Palm Tree, which serves about 250 special-education students and provides the busing for the religious schools, are no longer be bound by the closure order because it followed orders, requires masks, and adhered to social distancing.
According to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the positive infection rate in Kiryas Joel has dropped to slightly above 4.5 percent, down from more than 12 percent last week.
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