IS 51 on Staten Island was a school with few staff members Friday after one teacher tested positive for the coronavirus.
Sixty teachers, four administrators and six paraprofessionals were told to stay home in isolation, just as the school prepares to reopen next week for in-person learning.
Mark Cannizzaro is the President of the Council of School Administrators, which represents principals. He spoke with NY1 on the phone.
"It raises concerns, and it's frustrating," he said.
The teacher with coronavirus learned of her diagnosis Tuesday after suffering a low-grade fever.
Contract tracing determined that people who attended three staff meetings in the cafeteria on Thursday, September 17 potentially were at risk and should quarantine.
The city Department of Education accused the school of not following social distancing protocols. But principal Nicholas Mele wrote on the school's website that the meetings followed all state guidelines. He said no more than 50 people attended any session, and that everyone wore face coverings and sat at least six feet from each other.
"To say that social distancing guidelines were not followed, that’s incorrect and irresponsible," Cannizzaro said.
The Education Department says contract tracers found that there could have been moments when staff came within six feet of each other, and that because the meetings were held in the same room, even if social distancing guidelines were followed, everyone must be quarantined. That's because the DOE views the meeting the same way it views a classroom, requiring that anyone in contact with someone who tests positive be quarantined.
If IS 51 hopes to open as planned on Thursday, it will need a whopping 65 substitute teachers, a move that doesn’t seem likely given the staffing issues the DOE is facing.
Instead, the school will now try to physically open next Friday, one day later than planned, when the two-week quarantine is lifted for its staff - provided, of course, that there are no future positive cases reported from this school.