Life Inside the Containment Zone

By: Bryan Grossbauer

This article was originally published on

It has been 2 days since Governor Andrew Cuomo declared New Rochelle the epicenter of the New York State Coronavirus Outbreak. Specifically, the mile radius around Young Israel synagogue, within which we live, that has been labeled the “containment zone”. New Rochelle, which is just north of New York City, became a coronavirus “hot spot” Cuomo said, after a resident was diagnosed with the virus last week. The man, an attorney who works near Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal, was later linked to dozens of other confirmed cases of the virus including members of his family and members of the New Rochelle synagogue. The exposed members of the synagogue have been in quarantine for several days already. In fact, both our neighbors next to us and behind us are quarantined. Now we join them, in the containment zone.

Hmm. Containment Zone? What does that mean? How did we get here?

Within that mile radius, no large groups may gather- schools, churches, synagogues-for two weeks. This has been proven to lessen the possibility of further spreading of the virus. We are able to come and go; restaurants, shops, and food stores are still open with plenty of supplies. No checkpoints are set up keeping us in or others out. Besides a lot less traffic and fewer residents out walking around- if you turned off the TV and put down your phone, life is pretty much the same.

All across Westchester County (where New Rochelle is located), and now New York City, school districts are closing schools left and right. But in a big city like New Rochelle, closing all the schools in the district would have a monumental impact. The decision to close all the schools was not one that the district was prepared to make. “Unless we get a written confirmation from a governing body that has the authority to [close schools], we believe that having students in school is of paramount importance,” New Rochelle Board of Education president Amy Mosheli explained, “putting students at home puts 11,000 students, we consider, at risk.” On Tuesday afternoon that confirmation from Governor Cuomo was made crystal clear. Close the schools- but only those in the containment zone.

So with my son’s school closing, the homeschooling choice has been made for us by the folks up in Albany and luckily, being an at home parent, I can accommodate. So here we are. Class assignments are posted in the morning to a google classroom that correspond to the enormous amount of work my son carried home in his overstuffed backpack. All with the expectation of completion and comprehension. His teachers were ready and prepared for this and it shows. So far it has been a smooth transition; we are doing most of the work in the morning, finishing up the rest in the afternoon. My daughter, who continues to attending school daily, comes home wondering what has been going on at our “homeschool.” After her long, soapy, hand, wrist and lower arm wash, she begs him to answer how much work is actually being done. “What do you think Dad, 4 hours?” he responds. She nods her head in acceptance. She pries further into what he did for recess, how much TV was watched, and if he got to play the iPad. The important questions that concern a 7 year old.

We are not scared. We continue to wash our hands and not touch our face. Just as we have been doing for years. Perhaps in a few weeks, if the “Containment Zone” is no longer necessary, we can return to the boring life that we so enjoyed.

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