In a newly updated testing strategy, New York City now plans to randomly test 10% of every public school’s unvaccinated populous, twice a month for the whole school year to prevent COVID-19 transmission. This announcement was made by Mayor Bill de Blasio and School Chancellor Meisha Porter on Thursday.
The Department of Education (DOE) also released “DOE Home Coming 2021: Our Commitment to Your Health and Safety” as a PDF you can download. The 13-page document has sections entitled Before the School Year Starts, Health and Safety in Our Schools, Medical Necessary Instruction, and Other Important Information like the 2021-2022 School Year Calendar which begins on Monday, September 13 – the first day of school.
“The updated testing strategy considerably dialed back from the previous protocol that held weekly testing of each school’s entire school population, but it does fall in line with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” writes Gothamist.
The top ‘Key Takeaway’ from the CDC document, linked above, states, “Students benefit from in-person learning, and safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall 2021 is a priority.
The CDC also details procedure for screen testing, ventilation and the implementation of prevention strategies that include:
- Promoting vaccination
- Consistent and correct mask use
- Physical distancing
- Screening testing to promptly identify cases, clusters, and outbreaks
- Handwashing and respiratory etiquette
- Staying home when sick and getting tested
- Contact tracing, in combination with isolation and quarantine
- Cleaning and disinfection
Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced on August 23 that all school staffers are required to get their first vaccine dose by September 27. That includes custodians, cafeteria staff and any outside contractors. The new mandate details that teachers and staff will have to upload proof of a first shot, which can include a vaccination card or a state Excelsior Pass, to the Department of Education’s vaccination portal.
“City schools saw extremely low virus transmission last year; the test positivity rate was .03 at the end of the school year in June,” reports the New York Times. “All students and staff will be required to wear masks, and each classroom will also have two air purifiers. Principals have been instructed to keep three feet of distance between students everywhere possible, and city officials said distancing will be possible in the vast majority of classrooms.”
Mayor de Blasio said in his press conference that more stringent requirements could be on the way for additional city workers in the weeks ahead.