Editor's Note, October 16, 2020: The city told NY1 that it inspected the building listed as the address of a Gravesend, Brooklyn pre-kindergarten program - and found the program complying with state restrictions on schools in COVID-19 hot spots.
Editor's Note, October 15, 2020: When we published this story on October 14, 2020, the school, Magen David, had not responded to our multiple requests for comment. The following day, on October 15, 2020, a spokeswoman for the pre-school, Dr. Sarah Jabbour, said the pre-school has been operating at a different address than the one officially listed. She said the students we saw were part of a day care, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo has allowed to remain open. NY1 is trying to independently confirm that with city and state education officials.
At 12:15 P.M. Wednesday afternoon — dismissal time at the Magen David Early Childhood Center on McDonald Avenue in Gravesend — parents pick up their young children.
The building is owned by the Magen David Yeshiva and is located in an area designated as an orange zone because of an uptick in coronavirus cases. All public and private schools in the zone are supposed to be closed.
"We are entering into a new era because of the uptick and the government leaders correctly are trying to nip this in the bud,” said David Pollock, the associate executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council. “But it seems to be it is a very heavy burden.”
He's been trying to get organizations in the Jewish community to comply with new COVID-19 restrictions.
Last weekend, the city cited five synagogues for violations.
This week, some Jewish schools seem to be an issue.
"If these schools are operating, it's easy enough to find out,” Cuomo said at his daily coronavirus press briefing Wednesday. “You would think a local government would have the capacity to do it. If they don’t, we will withhold funding from the government."
Public schools and Catholic schools in the COVID hot spots in Brooklyn and Queens have been closed since last week.
Off camera, parents of children at some of those schools voiced frustration about schools that appear to be flouting the rules.
The facility that appeared to be open Wednesday was on the Department of Education's registry of universal pre-kindergarten sites, which means it should be closed.
"There is a difference, just so you know, between providing childcare and operating a school. You cannot operate a school and then tomorrow say, ‘Well, I've turned it into a childcare center,’” said Cuomo.
The governor pointed out that childcare facilities have been allowed to stay open in the hot spot zones because they require different licenses and are subject to different COVID-19 guidelines.
The facility where we saw children leaving appeared to be a school, not day care.
It has the same address as the Magen David Early Childhood Center, and the children appeared to be pre-school age.
The site Daycare.com lists a day care center operating at the same address, but says it's open until 6 P.M., and it's only for children up to two-years-old.
We called and emailed the Magen David Early Childhood Center several times for comment.
We are still awaiting a response.