New Rochelle School District Statement and Press Conference on COVID-19 Closures by Governor of 3 Public Schools

Written By: Robert Cox

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — New Rochelle School Superintendent Dr. Laura Feijóo read a statement at a press conference this afternoon then, along with New Rochelle Board of Education President Amy Moselhi, took questions from reporters.

FULL VIDEO: New Rochelle Board of Education COVID-19 Presser 2020-0310

Prepared Statement:

Moments ago, Governor Cuomo announced that the he will be closing the New Rochelle Public Schools ONE MILE FROM YOUNG ISRAEL SYNAGOGUE for two weeks. The Schools impacted are limited to New Rochelle High School, Albert Leonard Middle School and Ward Elementary schools in the City School District of New Rochelle will be closed from March 11, 2020 through March 25, 2020. As of this most recent guidance, we anticipate students will return to school on March 26, 2020.

While students are home please remember not to congregate unnecessarily. Keep safe and have students work on educational materials provided to you. If you need access to a Chromebook, because you do not have access to a computer at home, please email We will work to distribute and deliver Chromebooks to those who need them for middle and the high school schools. All Chromebooks must be returned when students return to school. We must make these two weeks count instructionally and ensure students are learning and engaged while we deal with this worldwide crisis. Students will receive targeted instructional guidance which will be aligned horizontally district wide. Please look for emails directing you to important information that pertains to your child’s academic progress over the next two weeks.

The CSDNR has advocated for help from the Governor’s office to aid in supporting students who are food dependent on the district. We are committed to working with State officials to ensure that the State is ready to support our student’s every day we are closed beginning tomorrow. The CSDNR cannot handle this alone. We need State funds and the States commitment that food will be made available and delivered to homes where students have been identified as needing this level of support.

We thank the Governor’s office for their partnership. After speaking with his staff, it is clear to us that they understand the complexity of our district and our advocacy to stay open. We trust that continued dialogue with the Governor’s office will help position New Rochelle and our 11,000 students well. As always, we will communicate when developments arise.

We believe students are safest in schools and are eager to reopen as soon as possible. It is inevitable that one of our students or staff will contract the virus. What is in our control is to be ready, calm, decisive, and responsive to any and all circumstances which may arise. Our PREP Plan, which has led the State through this difficult time, does just that. As always, the CSDNR is fully committed to all of our students. We will continue to update you with prompt and accurate information.

Once again, we are committed to a safe and nurturing environment for all students and staff and we commend the nurses, teachers, clinicians, custodial team, school leaders and staff who have been working tirelessly to ensure our schools are wonderful places where high-level learning takes place with caring and thoughtful continuous support from these professionals.


Why not close all of the schools?

“We only want to close schools when we absolutely have to, we think kids should be in school, we really think the safest place for them educationally and safety-wise is in school so we’re only closing schools as required

Feijóo did not have an answer when asked about day care support for working parents, whether school vacations might be cancelled or the school year might be extended into the summer (called it “premature” to consider).

Students should not congregate in groups (defined as 10 or more).

During school hours should continue their studies on their computer.

If they need access to a computer NRHS and ALMS students can request on by emailing 70 students have already requested to borrow and take home a chromebook.

In the 3 closed schools there are 5,508 students about half of the roughly 10,500 students in the public school district.

Of those 5,508, 2,822 students receive free or reduced lunch from the District. New York State will be providing the funds for the food program which will be executed and implemented by the National Guard. The food delivery is expected to begin Thursday. Not determined whether it will be breakfast and lunch or just lunch.

Asked whether buildings closed or is school closed, Feijóo said when the buildings are closed the teachers go home and do not work. Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Alex Marrero will assign grade level work like reading list and working assignments. These assignments will be provided over a number of mediums. The students are prepared to use these programs that they are already familiar with. Feijóo said the work will be more like summer assignments (independent study). Students already have homework and assignments given out before the schools were closed.

Asked if there is an attendance percentage below which a school is not credited by NYSED for a full day of school, Feijóo said State Aid is not determined by the number of students in a particular school on a particular day.

There are no confirmed cases of Covid-19 for students and staff in the CSDNR.

CSDNR Is responsible for cleaning and disinfecting the schools. Cuomo said the National Guard will help disinfect buildings as needed; not clear the District needs this help. Any Moselhi appeared to believe the National Guard will disinfect the schools.

“Common Core” tests are scheduled to begin statewide the week of 3/26, when schools may re-open in New Rochelle but testing will not occur the day the kids return. There will be sufficient time given to the students to prepare for the state tests.

Details on the business side of the impact on employees is not yet determined in regards to how employees at closed schools are being paid (vacation days, personal days, sick days, snow days).

All school facilities are being disinfected three times a week. A large order for 60% alcohol hand sanitizer was ordered several weeks ago. Half the order arrived last Thursday. Only hand sanitizer not filled were the hallway dispensers. The balance is expected soon. (Mayor Bramson said at his press conference that New York State has already made deliveries of Cuomo’s hand sanitizer).

All sports is cancelled at NRHS and ALMS. Feijóo did not know if scheduled games or matches would be forfeited.

POST-PRESSER STATEMENT by Superintendent Dr. Laura Feijóo:

We understand that some of our students are food-dependent on the district. As we await support from the state government to help provide these students with food support, we are very thankful to local organizations who have stepped up in this critical time.
Additionally, we will share information about the 2,822 students who are food dependent with Governor Cuomo’s office. We anticipate that the National Guard will help distribute food to these students in need.
As we have made clear, the choice to close specific schools came from the Governor’s office in consultation with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health professionals. The Governor chose to close schools within the containment area – within one mile of the impacted synagogue. The impacted schools are New Rochelle High School, Albert Leonard Middle School and William B. Ward Elementary School.
The impacted schools MUST close based on the latest guidance from the Governor. In addition, the CSDNR PREP Plan, which aligns with the plan provided by the NYS Department of Health and the NYS Education Department, contemplates closing schools when there is a confirmed case of COVID-19. We will continue to be guided by these documents.
At this time, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our schools. We are closing the three schools from March 11 to March 25 in compliance with the Governor’s directive.