Not all schools should be blame for an increase in COVID-19 cases in "hot spot" areas in New York City and the Hudson Valley, the Catholic Conference on Monday said in a statement.
New York City Mayor Bil de Blasio on Sunday proposed the closing of schools and non-essential businesses in areas of the city that have seen an increase in COVID cases in recent weeks.
Orange and Rockland counties have also seen COVID cases rise. Many of the zip codes overlap with Orthodox Jewish communities, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo has spoken with leaders to urge adherence to social distancing and mask wearing guidelines.
The rise in cases, however, for now has not been tied to the reopening of public and private schools in the state.
"We strongly urge that any action taken addresses actual problem schools where there is a sustained high rate of infection, rather than a broad-brush approach that penalizes all schools, children, and families needlessly," the Catholic Conference said in its statement.
"The Catholic schools throughout our state and, particular in the densely populated New York City Metropolitan Area, have rightly been held up as a model for safety in these uncertain times. Our Catholic schools opened for full-time, in-person learning weeks before the New York City public schools and have had no significant COVID-19 outbreaks to date."
Like public schools, the reopening of private Catholic schools has been costly in order to adhere to pandemic safety guidelines. The group said the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn have spent millions of dollars and staff time to do so.
"Should our schools be ordered closed by the state absent any significant COVID-19 outbreaks because of inferior protocols at non-Catholic schools, it would be a profound injustice to our families who have placed their trust in us to keep their children safe and whose faith has been richly rewarded to date," the conference said.
"We have been strongly supportive of the state’s efforts to protect our communities from the coronavirus, and we have been enthusiastic partners. We hope to continue that partnership for the good of all."