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The coronavirus has so far claimed the lives of 50 people in New York City’s Department of Education, officials announced this week, leading at least one politician to question why its schools weren't closed sooner.

The grim figure disclosed Monday includes 22 paraprofessionals who help instruct students with disabilities, 21 teachers, two administrators and a guidance counselor, among other employees, according to the New York Daily News.

“This is painful news for too many of our communities -- each number represents a life, a member of one our schools or offices, and the pain their loved ones are experiencing is unimaginable,” schools Chancellor Richard Carranza was quoted as saying.


“We will be there to support our students and staff in any way they need, including remote crisis and grief counseling each day. We mourn these losses and will not forget the impact each person had on our DOE family,” he added.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasioafter facing pressure from unions and elected officials, had announced on Sunday, March 15 that schools would close because of the coronavirus outbreak. Many companies in the region had already instructed their employees to work from home at that point – yet school staff were told to come in for a few more days that upcoming week to be trained on how to teach remotely.

“This is just brutal. Our @NYCSchools teachers are frontline workers & essential to building our future,” New York City Council Member Brad Lander tweeted Monday after learning about the deaths. “So painfully clear with 20/20 hindsight that we should have closed schools sooner.”


Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers union, told the New York Daily News that “every one of these stats is a tragedy.”

“We’ve never had this many deaths in this period of time,” he added.