Queens Lawmakers on the Move August 4, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Meng Condemns End of Census Door-Knocking Ops

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park) issued the following statement after NPR reported on Friday that the U.S. Census Bureau is cutting short its door-knocking operations for unresponsive households to the 2020 Decennial Census:

“Historic undercount. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again and again and again: there are no do-overs with the Census; a mistake is a 10-year mistake. We risk a historic undercount with the Census Bureau’s decision to reduce its timeframe to reach ALL people in the country,” said Meng. “Additional time and flexibility is needed so the Bureau can ensure an accurate count while keeping its staff safe from COVID-19. But, let’s be clear about why this is happening; this decision didn’t come out of thin air. The White House is engaged in a strategy to erase the voices of immigrants, communities of color, and undocumented immigrants. By excluding those communities, it enhances its narrow view of who belongs—and who does not—in America. If we go down this path, we’re running toward a cliff that if we fall off of will have damaging consequences for a decade or more.”

According to the NPR article, Census follow-up operations will end on September 30—not October 31 as planned.

Reynoso Lauds Extension of Open Restaurants 

Councilman Antonio Reynoso

City Councilmember Antonio Reynoso (D-Ridgewood and parts of Brooklyn) praised Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement Monday that the city’s popular Open Restaurants program, which allows restaurants to serve diners in sidewalks and curb lanes, will return next summer. 

“As the author of the outdoor dining bill, I have always believed that this program should become a permanent part of our City’s streetscape” said Reynoso. “Outdoor dining provides a financial lifeline to our struggling restaurant industry, while reimagining our streets to create more space for people to enjoy the outdoors.”

Over 9,000 restaurants have signed up for the program, which has helped save nearly 80,000 New York City jobs since June.

Outdoor dining will return to the city by June 1, 2021 and run through October 31st. The City will also bring back a popular initiative that combines Open Restaurants with Open Streets. On weekends, restaurants on participating corridors will go farther away from the curb than other Open Restaurants participants, and the rest of the streets will be open to pedestrian traffic.

The hours of operation for Open Restaurants are Monday to Saturday, 8:00 AM – 11:00 PM, and Sunday 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM. A searchable citywide map of existing Open Restaurants can be found here. For more information on the program, including regulations, guidelines, and the application, click here

Mayor Announces School Test and Trace Protocols

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza announced health and safety protocols for schools last week, including guidance for testing and tracing, for the start of the 2020-21 school year.  

These protocols will apply to all school communities and will help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  

“We are doing everything in our power to keep kids healthy while ensuring they are getting the education they deserve. These rigorous test and trace protocols will keep our students and staff safe as we start off this new school year,” said de Blasio.

In preparation for the start of school, the DOE is purchasing large orders of hygiene supplies on behalf of schools. These supplies include, but are not limited, to, facial coverings for students, teachers, and staff; disinfectant; hand sanitizer; and electrostatic sprayers. School leadership and facilities staff in every school are reviewing school space and making necessary repairs and adjustments to ensure safe conditions for in-person student learning this fall.  

All staff members will be asked to take a COVID-19 test in the days before the first day of school. If a student or teacher is feeling sick, they are required to stay home and, if their symptoms are consistent with COVID-19, are asked to get tested. If a student begins experiencing symptoms in school, they will be isolated and monitored by a dedicated staff member until they are picked up by their parents or guardians. Staff members who become symptomatic at school are asked to immediately leave the building.

Whether symptoms begin at home or in school, there will be a clear flow of information to facilitate fast action and prevent spread. A positive case can be reported to a school by a staff member, a parent, or a student. A positive confirmed case will trigger an investigation by the NYC Test + Trace Corps and DOHMH to determine close contacts within the school. Schools will communicate to all families and students within school any time a case is laboratory confirmed.

The DOE is working in tight coordination with DOHMH and the NYC Test + Trace Corps to identify, isolate, and prevent spread of COVID-19. In the event that there is a laboratory- confirmed case in a school, all students and teachers in that class are assumed close contacts and will be instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days since their last exposure to that case. Additionally, DOHMH and NYC Test + Trace Corps will begin an investigation into the risk of exposure to the school community and work with the DOE to issue clear guidance and decisions for next steps based on the outcome.

For the potential investigative conclusions outlined below, all decisions to quarantine classrooms or close schools will depend on the facts of each investigation.

Whenever a student is isolating or quarantining at home, the expectation is that they continue engaging with learning remotely if they are feeling well enough. If a school is closed, the school will communicate by 6 P.M. on the night before about the status of opening the next morning, based on the status of the investigation. A school building will not reopen without confirmation from public health experts that it is safe.