ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Department of Health released official guidance and requirements Thursday evening for the 2021-2022 school year.

Under the new guidance:

  • Unvaccinated teachers and school staff members will be required to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing.
  • Everyone inside a school building must wear a mask at all times, regardless of vaccination status, except when eating, drinking, singing, or playing an instrument.
  • Unmasked individuals must be at least 6 feet apart.
  • Distance requirements should not preclude students from participating in in-person learning.
  • A distance of at least 3 feet is strongly recommended between all students.
  • A distance of at least 6 feet is recommended between unvaccinated individuals.
  • Passengers and drivers must wear masks on school buses.
  • All “close contacts” with someone with COVID must quarantine unless they are fully vaccinated.
  • Vaccinated individuals who come in “close contact” with someone with COVID do not need to quarantine unless they present symptoms. They should be tested 3-5 days after exposure and must wear a mask indoors for 14 days or until they receive a negative diagnostic test result.

A statement Friday from Bo Wright, president of the Monroe County Council of School Superintendents and Rush-Henrietta Central School District:

“The New York State Department of Health announced that school districts will be required to test employees on a weekly basis. Those who are fully vaccinated will have the opportunity to opt-out of testing by providing proof of vaccination. 

This new requirement arrives late in the back-to-school process. We look forward to working with the state department of health. Moving forward, providing school districts with advanced notice and increased flexibility will help us experience a more productive school year. 

There is much to figure out regarding the new requirement and we will be focused on this in the days to come. The goal of local school districts has been – and continues to be – on preparing for the new school year. Our immediate priority is to make sure students have a successful return to the classroom.”

The Rochester City School District was already set to require all employees to be vaccinated, or else submit to weekly COVID-19 testing. The RCSD is also dealing with a bus driver shortage ahead of students’ return next week.

Penfield and Wayne Central Schools began classes this week, with precautions in place.

Read the complete guidance