New Rochelle Principal Who Led School Food Distribution Location Tests Positive for COVID-19

Written By: Robert Cox

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Christopher Columbus Elementary School Principal Michael Galland, who led the food distribution effort at his school since the school was first closed on March 12th, has tested positive for coronavirus. He was notified earlier today, April 1st.

In a letter to the Columbus school community, Galland was said to be doing well and in good spirits. He will remain home for the next few weeks.

In the exact scenario Talk of the Sound warned about in a scathing assessment of the New Rochelle school district food distribution operation, first delivered on March 17th and published on March 23rd, the Columbus site is now shut down, all workers who worked with Galland on March 26th and March 30th are on 14-day quarantine and all clients who were in contact with Galland, those who are reachable, are also being to told to self-isolate for 14 days. All workers are now unavailable for at least two weeks, more for those who subsequently test positive for the virus. The location will re-open after cleaning crews complete disinfecting the building, possibly Thursday.

Last month, we wrote:

Assessment of Food Distribution by the City School District of New Rochelle in Response to 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic

“The fundamental predicate for the entire food distribution operation by the City School District of New Rochelle in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic is that no worker or client is infectious. Best practices are not followed, no medical professionals/sanitarians are on site at any location and we assess it is highly likely that one or more sites will be lost because a worker or client at a facility tests positive and the site will be shut down.”

“In short, the food distribution locations are set up to be a perfect delivery system for mass infection of coronavirus within the New Rochelle community.”

We raised particular concerns about the set up at Columbus:

“There was a single point of entrance/exit and the area for clients to get food parcels (and homework assignments) was unnecessarily constrained. Tables were set up to create a rectangular area of perhaps 60 feet long and 15 feet wide. Workers by contrast stood on the other side of the tables and had the rest of the entire cafeteria space to themselves. This appeared to be the inverse of the ideal set up.”

“The workers should be located in a small area and the clients able to wait in line and collect food parcels in a much larger area. There were 10-12 workers, far more than needed. Reducing the number of workers and inverting the space available to workers and clients would allow for appropriate social distancing. Clients should enter in the front of the building at the main door and exit out the side door or onto the terrace (or out the back into the parking lot).”

After our assessment was published on March 23rd a number of improvements were made but the underlying predicate of zero to low risk of community spread remained.

UPDATE Assessment of Food Distribution by the City School District of New Rochelle in Response to 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic

Regarding improvements at Columbus, we noted:

“Workers who are compliant with being screened by school nurses, are wearing various sorts of masks (more surgical masks and dust masks rather than N95 respirators which have so far proved elusive).”

“The food parcel exchanges occur hand to hand without setting up two tables set up to create 6 feet of distance between worker and client. All food parcels are still placed “buffet style” on tables for grab-and-go but workers are still handing food parcels directly to clients while making close contact and hand-to-hand contact. Two workers were on the client side of the table not practicing social distancing. The ADA issues were mitigated somewhat by the outdoor operation.”

“None of the signs created by CSDNR Health Services were displayed. There were cones and multiple lanes and some effort to manage clients and keep them 6 feet apart which was defeated by close contact upon arriving at the table with food parcels displayed “buffet style”. Tables were grouped into three sections. Clients were not offered hand sanitizer before taking food parcels.”

“CSDNR security were not on site during our visit. Nurses arrived on site as we arrived. The clients were compliant. Overall, a better set up but room for improvement.”