For Immediate Release: February 20, 2021
Contact: Marcos Martí / / 212-437-8300

New York City Ordered to Provide & Administer COVID-19 Screening Tests to Students & Staff at Charter Schools

(NEW YORK) – The New York City Charter School Center announced today that they, along with five New York City charter schools and ten charter-school families, won a lawsuit against the de Blasio administration to include public charter schools in the City’s COVID-19 testing program. The City had refused to include charter schools even after requests from charter school leaders and elected officials.

In a win for the health and safety of students, teachers, staff, and families, a New York Supreme Court Justice last night ordered the City to “provide and administer COVID-19 screening tests to students and staff of charter schools upon identical terms as testing provided to [district] schools.”

The decision, calling the City’s positions “beyond incredulous” and “illogical,” can be found HERE.

“The clarity and swiftness of the court’s order shows how important it is for the City to finally provide necessary testing to charter schools students and staff – it’s a matter of health and safety,” said James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center. “We look forward to working with the de Blasio administration to implement a testing regimen as soon as possible.”

“The law is clear; ‘all health and welfare services,’ including COVID-19 testing, that are made available to children attending district schools must also be provided to children attending charter schools,” said Amanda Raines, pro bono attorney from Arnold & Porter representing the plaintiffs. “Last night, the judge issued a thoughtful decision reinforcing this law. We are pleased that all NYC public charter school students will have access to this critical testing.”

“In-person learning is essential for children, and we are thrilled that we can reopen our doors next month having the City provide school-based COVID-19 testing for our students and staff,” said Emily Kim, CEO of Zeta Charter Schools. “We can now focus on providing high-quality education our students deserve knowing that the City is doing its part to ensure their safety.”

“The City’s COVID-19 testing program is a critical tool in our arsenal to keep our school community safe and with less interruptions as we reopen in March. We are glad the court clearly saw the inequity and ruled in our favor,” said Janelle Bradshaw, CEO of Public Preparatory Network. “Our families continue to face unspeakable challenges and I am proud to have worked with my colleagues to elevate the voices of children and their families amid the worst public health crisis on record.”