New York City’s largest public preschools are closing their doors amid concerns about the safety of children’s health and wellbeing.
On Friday, the New York Times reported that the Empire State Department of Education announced the closing of two private preschool campuses in the New Rochelle section of the city.
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene spokesman Scott Geddes confirmed the closures but said the department would be continuing to provide additional resources to address the health and safety concerns.
“We have been in discussions with the parents and other staff who have been at the schools for several months,” Geddess said in an email.
“We are currently assessing the situation to determine the best course of action.”
The closures follow the closure of the Empire state school at 34 West 26th Street in Manhattan in April.
In the wake of the news of the two schools closing, the Empire School Association said in a statement that the closures are part of a broader plan to address “significant concerns” raised by parents, students and teachers.
“The Empire State of New York will continue to support the families of our students and staff, and continue to provide support to our employees, parents, and community members,” the statement said.
Parents and community leaders expressed concerns over the closing, with the Empire Parents Association calling for the closure and a meeting with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday.
“They [New York State Education Department] are putting the safety and wellbeing of our kids at risk,” said Mara Zahn, president of the New Jersey Empire Parents Alliance.
The Empire parents also urged Cuomo to issue an emergency closure order to protect their children.
“If Cuomo can’t protect them, they should shut down,” Zahn said.
“These are kids who are going to need to go back to school, they are going.
They are going.”
The Empire state schools are the first of four private preschool sites to close in the state.
Several other states have shut down preschools in recent years, including North Carolina, which closed its Empire State schools in December.
Earlier this year, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection announced it was closing its Empire schools after health concerns were raised.
Officials at the New Brunswick, New Jersey, school said they were making “difficult decisions” to shut their schools.