You are reading

Queens Lawmakers Introduce Legislation Requiring State to Cover Cost of COVID Testing at Private Schools

A student’s temperature is taken at a Bronx public school (Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

Dec. 7, 2020 By Allie Griffin

Two Queens lawmakers introduced legislation Thursday that would require New York State to cover the cost of COVID-19 testing at private, religious and other non-public schools.

State Sen. Joe Addabbo and Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi sponsored a bill that would require the state to reimburse non-public schools for the cost of coronavirus testing when such testing is mandated by the state.

Currently, private schools must foot the bill themselves, even when the tests are required by the state.

For example, all schools — public or private — that are located within one of the state’s three COVID-19 micro-cluster zones are required to test upwards of 20 percent of their in-person students and faculty weekly. Private schools are expected to cover the cost of this testing.

The new bill would change this. The state lawmakers said the legislation would provide financial relief to the schools, while ensuring that all schools are treated equally. Furthermore, it would guarantee that the necessary testing guidelines are followed.

“Testing is a crucial component of keeping our schools open and keeping our students, teachers, and faculty safe during the pandemic,” Hevesi said in a statement. “New York State did the right thing by making these tests mandatory, it must do the right thing again by not imposing an unfunded mandate on our religious, private and non-public schools.”

The bill earned the praise of the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

The Archdiocese of New York — which represents Catholic schools in Manhattan, Staten Island, the Bronx and counties upstate— sued the New York City Department of Education last month for failing to provide free COVID-19 testing to its students.

The diocese argued that state education law requires school boards— like the New York City Department of Education—to provide students attending non-public schools in their district with the same health services, including the “administration of health screening tests.”

While a judge ruled in favor of the Archdiocese last month, the City is appealing the decision, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Cardinal Dolan said Catholic school students deserve equal services and testing. He thanked Addabbo and Hevesi for their bill.

“New York has a solemn obligation to protect the health and safety of all students and teachers, no matter what the school,” Dolan said. “Our Catholic schools have been enthusiastic partners with the state since this pandemic began. All we ask for is fair treatment for our kids, and that’s what this legislation ensures.”

Addabbo said New York State must provide the funding for necessary testing.

“It is vital for New York State to provide funding for our private, religious, and non-public schools to continue their testing practices,” he said.

email the author: [email protected]

One Comment

Click for Comments 
Daniel L.

The state requires all sorts of things of private schools, like that they provide substantially equivalent education to public school. Are taxpayers supposed to pay for that as well, essentially requiring taxpayers to foot the bill for private schools? I definitely don’t like the precedent of saying that if the state requires something at a private school, then the state should pay for it.

1
1
Reply

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Op-Ed: This Year’s State Budget Must Prioritize Climate, Jobs, and Justice for New York

Op-Ed, Jan. 30, By Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas

In a time of rampant economic inequality and environmental injustice, it is easy to feel defeated.  Here in Queens and across New York State, however, communities are organizing for a better future. New Yorkers from different backgrounds and with different lived experiences are proving that we can build community, organize, and create a future that reflects our shared values.

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

Raga sworn in as first-ever Filipino American elected to the state Legislature

More than 300 community members attended the historic inauguration of Assemblyman Steven Raga as the first Filipino American elected to office in New York state.

Many who attended the swearing-in event at the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park wore traditional and cultural attire to the event at the building that once housed the General Assembly of the newly formed United Nations from 1946 to 1950 until its current home in Manhattan became available for the world body.