(Bebeto Matthews / AP / Shutterstock)  Five other ultra-Orthodox schools have been cited by the New York Department of Mental Health and Hygiene for allowing unvaccinated children to attend classes , in flagrant violation of an order implemented in December to hinder the spread of measles.
schools, like the one mentioned last month, are all in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which was the epicenter of the measles outbreak that has so far disgusted 158 New Yorkers, including 1
"The epidemic is not over, and we will continue to see additional cases as long as unvaccinated students are not adequately excluded from attending school," said health commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot.
Health Department investigators based their findings by comparing vaccination records with school records. And schools have been fined, but could suffer monetary damage if they find that they are still disobeying city orders during future audits, according to the Department of Health.
Normally the law of the state of New York requires that all students be vaccinated for measles, in addition to a number of other diseases, in order to attend a public or private school. But they allow exemptions for a valid religious or medical reason.
In December, however, the health department issued an emergency order prohibiting ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools in postal codes where the virus was prevalent from allowing even exempted children in their buildings. Officials said the order would prevent the spread of measles.
More than 96% of children in the 133 yeshivas in the targeted postal codes are vaccinated, according to the 2017-2018 state records. (Another 7,000 received blows from the beginning of the epidemic). But this is lower than in public schools, where the rate is 99.3 percent.
Among the ultra-Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn (also known as Haredi), a hotline and an anti-vaccination publication raised fears about the alleged dangers of vaccines.
The five schools of the health department that violated the order are: Williamsburg's Bnos Square, Bnos Chayil (Wythe Avenue), Bnos Chayli (Hughes Street), Tiferes Bnos Children and Simche Kinder.
The person who answered telephone to Tiferes Bnos said that they did not have time to comment and hung up. The administrators of the other four schools did not respond to requests for comment.
In three of the five schools, according to health inspectors, not only have children not vaccinated but infectious gone to class, although it is still unclear whether they have triggered further cases. The incubation period for measles is up to 21 days, so more children may have been infected and have not yet shown symptoms, officials said.
A number of Jewish leaders claim to support the health department's order to exclude unvaccinated students from the yeshivas.
"All those who do not adhere to this policy violate the fundamental Jewish principle of protecting their health and protecting other health," said Rabbi Simcha Scholar. "They have no right to endanger other children".
Scholar is the managing director of Chai Lifeline, a group that works with children with cancer in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, particularly vulnerable to measles and the serious complications that come with it.
Last month, the health department announced another school, Yeshiva Kehilath Yakov Pupa, who had disobeyed his orders. Now officials have linked another 42 measles cases to that school, 28 of which have been caught there, plus another 14 who took the second-hand virus.
Since the measles epidemic began last October, 11 people have been hospitalized and a child has needed intensive care. No one is dead.
Gwynne Hogan is an associate producer of WNYC. You can follow her on Twitter at @GwynneFitz .