‘Stay Safe and Stay Open’ School Plan Launches this Week

‘Stay Safe and Stay Open’ School Plan Launches this Week

Photo Courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor Adams and Schools Chancellor Banks visit a City public school.

By Forum Staff

Former Mayor Bill de Blasio, Mayor Eric Adams, former Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter, and Schools Chancellor David Banks recently announced a multi-pronged approach for safely returning to school in-person this January following winter break.

Returning to School Safely

All New York City students and staff members should and were encouraged to get tested prior to January 3. In partnership with the Test+Trace Corps, families and DOE staff members can go to any City-run testing site to get tested or pick up readily available at-home rapid tests. Sites with rapid tests can be found at nyc.gov/covidtest, text “COVID TEST” to 855-48, or call 311 to find a testing site near you.

Doubling In-School Surveillance Testing

The nation’s largest in-school surveillance testing program is expanding to double the number of individuals tested in each school by including both unvaccinated students and vaccinated students, as well as staff. The random in-school surveillance program continues to provide public health experts with an accurate look at the prevalence of COVID-19 in schools. All families, regardless of whether their young person is vaccinated, should consent to in-school testing at https://www.schoolsaccount.nyc/ or return a signed consent form to their school. As part of the return to school, school leaders will continue messaging the importance of providing consent as a critical part of keeping schools open and communities safe during the winter months.

Keeping Staff Safe

New State policy, which aligns with new CDC guidance and was co-written with the City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, shortens the isolation period for fully-vaccinated critical workers (including school personnel) who test positive, but are asymptomatic, to five days. Staff can return on the sixth day as long as they remain asymptomatic, have not had a fever in 72 hours, and wear an appropriate high-quality mask (such as a KN95, which will be provided to staff). Staff will continue to have access to at-home rapid tests as well as in-school testing.

Immediately Identify & Respond to Positive Cases to Stay Open

Every student and adult in a classroom with a positive case will immediately receive an at-home rapid test kit and will need to take two tests in five days. Students who are asymptomatic do not need to quarantine and can continue attending school. This policy is more expansive than the CDC’s quarantine policy, which applies to only close contacts. The DOE is sourcing approximately two and a half million at-home rapid test kits, in addition to the one million test kits provided by the Governor, to have on hand before the start of school.

Additionally, in anticipation of a winter increase in cases, the Situation Room has doubled its staffing levels from 275 to over 500. All positive cases, including from rapid tests, will be reported directly to the Situation Room via phone or email, and the Situation Room will provide schools with support, communications to families, and monitoring for instances of widespread in-school transmission that would result in a school closure.

Continuation of Gold Standard Health & Safety Protocols

The DOE closely adheres to CDC guidance: making vaccination easily accessible and available for all, a vaccine mandate for all in-school staff members, universal indoor masking, physical distancing, routine screening testing, fully functioning ventilation systems backed up by two air purifiers in every classroom, and oversight by the Situation Room.



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