ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — New York State schools and daycares have new guidelines for how to handle COVID-19 exposures and cases this year, Governor Kathy Hochul announced Monday in a press conference.

These new guidelines are, for the most part, relaxing quarantine rules in line with CDC guidance.

“Here in New York, we want to be fully aligned with the CDC,” Hochul said.

While not mandatory, parents are recommended to vaccinate their children ahead of the school year.

One of the biggest changes decides when students should stay home. Previous guidelines required that if an individual tested positive in a classroom, those exposed would need to stay home for 5 days, or “test-to-stay” back into the class.

The state will no longer require quarantining for those exposed to COVID-19, if they are asymptomatic. Instead, those students are advised to continue coming to class and mask for 10 days.

Individuals who test positive will still be subject to five-day isolation, and asked to wear a mask upon returning.

Random testing will no longer be required by the state, but schools and districts may still choose to do so, depending on the circumstances of COVID-19 cases.

Hochul said the priority behind these new guidelines is to keep kids in school, and not focusing on remote learning.

“Those days are over,” Hochul said. “We now have two years of experience to know that children are safe in classrooms. And when they’re not in a classroom, learning stops — traditional learning stops. It can be devastating for the wellbeing of those children.”

Governor Kathy Hochul says we’re making extraordinary progress when it comes to COVID infection rates, and vaccinations, “get your children vaccinated as we’re heading into school, our numbers are better than most states, but we never rest on our laurels here.”

Hochul says this is a move that significantly considers the mental health and wellbeing of students, no matter what grade level.

She says the past two years have been tough.

Dr. Casey Kosiorek, Hilton superintendent agrees; between missing class, catching up on work, and catching up on much-needed bonding experiences in the classroom.

“Anytime you have to be out of school you’re missing important information, so yeah it was very difficult,” he said.

“We’re seeing the mental health challenges we are facing now, suicide rates, depression, real mental health issues that were not there before for these children,” said Hochul.

Dr. Kosiorek, says he’s not surprised the state adopted the CDC’s new guidance, for the classroom. This means much more flexibility, when it comes to students, and their ability to stay in school safely, he says.

“It’s amazing, it’s a huge relief, it’s exciting,” he said. “Looking back, a lot of things had to happen, and it was a difficult time.”

The Geneva Central School District released the following statement in response to News 8:

We support Gov. Hochul’s decision to stand behind CDC guidance. Quarantining asymptomatic students — and at times, entire classrooms — resulted in the loss of valuable teaching time, which we know had a negative impact on student learning. Although test-to-stay helped to prevent some of this missed instruction, operating the program required a significant amount of resources and coordination between our school nurses and families. It is a relief to be at a point in the pandemic when following reasonable, CDC-recommended precautions will allow us to help keep everyone healthy while getting back to the business of teaching. 

News 8 has also learned the Office of Children and Family Services has adopted the new CDC guidelines as well, for child care providers in New York State. Those guidelines suggest:

  • Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms stay out of the child care program for 5 days, or until they test negative
  • Anyone who develops symptoms while in child care should be sent home for testing
  • Anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 and returns to child care between days 5 and 10 should wear a mask through day 10

Read the full daycare guidance: