We are taking many important precautions to help keep our students and staff healthy and safe this school year. These include:
All DOE employees, including school-based staff, will be required to be vaccinated. DOE employees will be required to provide proof that they have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination by September 27, 2021. The DOE also strongly encourages vaccination for all students 12 and over. Visit vaccinefinder.nyc.gov for more information.
Every student and staff member must complete the Health Screening Form (healthscreening.schools.nyc) prior to entering the school building each day. Anyone entering the building must confirm that they are not experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, have not recently tested positive, and are not currently required to quarantine based on close contact with an infected person. If you need a thermometer to check for a fever, you can request one from your school.
If a student or staff member is feeling ill, they must stay home and get tested, which is an effective way of protecting the whole school community. Every school will have a nurse on staff to whom students can report if they are feeling ill.
Face Coverings and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
All students and staff must wear a face covering when riding on school buses and anywhere on school property, indoors and outdoors, regardless of vaccination status, unless they have a medical exemption. Forgot a mask? No problem—every school will have a supply on hand for children and adults.
During lunchtime, masks may be removed so students can eat comfortably at a safe distance from one another. Masks may also be removed during designated “mask breaks”, during which students will maintain physical distance from each other.
Students who are not medically able to tolerate masks will be provided with alternative accommodations. Hand sanitizer will also be available in every classroom.
Physical Distancing in Schools
Physical distancing is another important part of our multi-layered strategy to keep our school communities safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms to reduce transmission risk. When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet, such as when schools cannot fully re-open while maintaining these distances, it is especially
important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as screening testing.” Additionally, wherever possible, elementary schools will keep groups of students consistently together or have teachers move between classes in order to minimize movement of students. It is important to note that the CDC emphasizes that schools should not exclude students from in-person learning to keep a minimum distance requirement.
During meal service, schools will use outdoor spaces and additional spaces in school buildings where possible to support physical distancing. Meals may be served in multiple locations and during multiple time periods.
Good ventilation is essential to prevent COVID-19. Over the past year and a half, ventilation in every single classroom across the city has been inspected, updated, and repaired as needed. Every DOE room in use by students and staff for extended periods of time will have fully operational ventilation through either natural, mechanical, or a combination of means.
As an added precaution, every classroom across New York City has been provided with two HEPA purifiers. Cafeterias in bigger schools will be provided with large HEPA units for added protection and window-based exhaust fans to provide additional air circulation, and we continue to increase ventilation in classrooms and schools. These measures meet or exceed guidance from the CDC.
You can check the ventilation status of your child’s school online: enter the school name or address at nycenet.edu/schoolsearch to search for your school’s information page, which includes a section on Building Ventilation Information. If a room in your child’s school does not have adequate ventilation, it will not be used.
All classrooms and common areas, such as auditoriums and gyms will have hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes available. High-touch” areas such as doorknobs and water fountains will be cleaned multiple times throughout the day, and each classroom will be deep cleaned and disinfected daily using electrostatic technology.
COVID-19 Testing in Schools
Regular COVID-19 testing provides school communities and public health experts with valuable information. Continuing the successful safety practices of last year, there will be regular testing for COVID-19 in our schools.
Every school will have ten percent of unvaccinated individuals who have submitted consent for testing in their school population tested biweekly. This way, if there is a positive case, action can be taken right away to protect the school community. Students and staff who are fully vaccinated are not required to be tested.
Positive Cases of COVID-19 in Schools
We know how important it is to keep our schools and classrooms open for learning, and we have done everything we can to make sure our classrooms are equipped to be safe learning environments, including mandating that all staff are vaccinated and ensuring increased ventilation in all school buildings and classrooms. These measures will mean fewer disruptions in your child’s education.
There may be times when your child is asked to quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19. Here are the quarantine protocols for students in:
Elementary Schools: In the event there is a positive case in a classroom, all students in the class will be instructed to quarantine for 10 calendar days. Students will continue to receive instruction while they quarantine.
Schools will be closed only when it is determined by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) that there is widespread transmission in the school. With the health and safety measures in place, we expect that school closures will be limited.