4 THE QUEENS COURIER • MARСH 12, 2020 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Far Rockaway charter school closes for three
days following confi rmed coronavirus case
BY ZACHARY GEWELB
Challenge Charter Schools in Far
Rockaway announced Monday that
it would close its K-8 school sites
and offi ces for three days in light of a
recent confi rmed case of coronavirus
in the neighborhood.
Th e school posted a letter from
its CEO, Rev. Dr. Les Mullings, on
its website Monday announcing
that the facilities would be closed
from Wednesday, March 11, through
Friday, March 13, for “comprehensive
Challenge Charter Schools’ Enrichment
Center at 15-26 Central Ave. in Far
St. John’s University closes campus in response to coronavirus outbreak
BY BILL PARRY
St. John’s University in Jamaica,
out of an abundance of caution, is
responding to the escalating coronavirus
situation by moving all academic
instruction to online learning
eff ective Th ursday, March 12.
Th e university is taking the preemptive
step of suspending all faceto
face instruction at all of St. John’s
University’s New York campuses.
Th ere are no known cases of coronavirus
at this time on any of the St.
John’s University campuses or locations,
according to school offi cials,
who stressed that “the safety and
well-being of our students and the
entire community are of primary
importance.” Th ere will not be classes
of any kind on Tuesday, March 10,
and Wednesday, March 11.
SJU will move to online instruction
eff ective Th ursday, March 12, that
will continue through Friday, March
27. Th e university will provide future
updates of how academic instruction
will be delivered and communicate
any changes as early as circumstances
permit to ensure that students
receive the instruction needed
to complete coursework.
All residential students are
required to return home by
Wednesday, March 11, at the latest.
Students who cannot return home
will be allowed to remain in their
assigned residence halls. Montgoris
Dining Hall will remain open to
serve those students.
All New York campuses will
remain open for business operations.
Eff ective immediately, university
events are canceled, at least through
March 27. Th e university has set
up a coronavirus/COVID-19 page
to post communication and up-todate
information regarding St. John’s
preventive measures to ensure the
health and safety of the members of
sanitation.” School will be back
in session on Monday, March 16,
“Regular school hours will be
maintained on Monday, March 9,
and Tuesday, March 10, to allow you
to make arrangements and to disrupt
the learning of our students as
little as possible,” the announcement
reads. “Please understand there is no
threat to our scholars. As with many
other schools and districts across the
region and nation, this action is a
proactive measure in the prevention
of the spread of the virus.”
Th e charter school’s closure comes
aft er a Queens Uber driver was
hospitalized at St. John’s Episcopal
Hospital in Far Rockaway and tested
positive for coronavirus. Mayor Bill
de Blasio said Saturday evening that
the driver is in his 30s and drives on
Long Island. He is not a TLC licensed
driver, according to the mayor.
Challenge Charter schools is not
the only school in New York City
to announce that it will shut down.
Brooklyn Paper reported Monday
that Brooklyn Friends School —
located in Downtown Brooklyn —
will close for two weeks amid coronavirus
fears, according to school
Th e private school, with two locations
on Pearl and Willoughby streets
near MetroTech, will remain closed
from March 10 through 13, and
the school will cancel its upcoming
spring break camp for elementary
schoolers that runs from March 18 to
the 22, according to Brooklyn Paper.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday
morning that there are no plans
to close public or private schools
because of the virus, but that any
school with confi rmed diagnosis will
“We would only consider closing
any particular school for very specifi
c reasons and for as brief a period
of time as possible,” he said at a
Brooklyn press conference, held not
far from Brooklyn Friends School.
Challenge Charter schools asks
those with any questions to contact
them by calling the following phone
• K-5 at 718-327-1352
• 6-8 at 347-990-1875
• Central Staff Offi ce at 718-327-
“As always, the safety of our scholars
and their families is important
to us, and we will make every eff ort
to do our part in prevention locally,”
Mullins said in the letter.
Tips on how you can
from a Queens doctor
BY CARLOTTA MOHAMED
Fear of contracting the coronavirus has prompted
New Yorkers to take preventative measures to better
prepare and protect themselves, as the number of
cases statewide has risen to more than 100.
In Queens, Dr. Miriam Smith, chief of infectious
disease at Northwell Health’s Long Island Jewish
Forest Hills, is reassuring the public to not panic, citing
a low risk for the general population.
“A vast majority of patients who have been infected
have had mild symptoms and have recovered. To
date, Northwell has not had any cases identifi ed,”
Smith said. “We are absolutely expecting cases as we
are the main transportation hub and prepared to deal
with cases if patients need to be hospitalized. Th e
information being transmitted through the CDC and
the NYC Department of Health are good and updated,
and we will deal with cases as they come to us.”
In the meantime, Smith recommends that with
this particular case of coronavirus, handwashing is
absolutely paramount — it’s the single most eff ective
infection control measure for any transmissible disease,
“Th e CDC and the local Department of Health as
well as medical systems have put into place infection
protocols, in terms of not only handwashing, but
limiting contact in large gathering areas, and taking
careful information about anyone who was in the hot
zone that have been reported to date,” Smith said. “In
addition to China, this includes South Korea, Japan,
Iran and Northern Italy — that’s information we seek
As the prices for surgical face masks skyrocket,
resulting in a reported shortage worldwide, Smith
reiterates that the masks are not useful.
“Th e protection is not ideal. I know people have
been hoarding these masks from everywhere they
can fi nd them, and they’re not particularly useful
and I think it’s being done because people are afraid,”
Smith said. “Th e general surgeon masks are not recommended.”
Th e masks that are helpful, Smith said, are the
N95 masks that are fi tted with low porosity and are
used by medical personnel in potential exposure to
According to Smith, there is a vaccine in development
for the coronavirus, but it will take months to
be available for a trial.
With symptoms that can range from anything as
simple such as a fl u-like illness to pneumonia and
respiratory failure, Smith is recommending everyone
follow the CDC and NYC Department of Health protocols
to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
Th e NYC Department of Health issued these simple
steps to help stop the spread of this and other respiratory
Wash your hands oft en with soap and water for at
least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available,
use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Stay home when you are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then
throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Out of an “abundance of caution,” St. John’s University is suspending all face-to-face
instruction due to coronavirus.