ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — New York State Department of Education officials released reopening guidance for schools Thursday.

Some districts, like Penfield and Greece, have already released their own reopening guidance while other education officials have said they were waiting on the state to release the guidance.

New York State Department of Public Health officials announced last week they would not be releasing reopening guidance for schools, as the COVID-19 state of emergency expired for New York in June. Department of Education officials were critical of the health department’s decision, and announced earlier this week they would be releasing guidance for reopening schools.

“As we prepare for schools to reopen in September, our priority must be to provide leaders with access to information about practices that have proven effective throughout the pandemic,” said Chancellor Lester W. Young.  “The Department’s health and safety guide is a concise resource that will assist districts as they mitigate risks to the health and safety of students, teachers and school staff while providing flexibility for schools to address their own unique circumstances in a manner that best meets the needs of all students.”

“At a time when schools are preparing to reopen and the COVID positivity rate is increasing, we must ensure our schools and districts have the most up-to-date resources and mitigation strategies available to keep our children and school staff safe,” said Commissioner Betty A. Rosa. “Reopening amidst a pandemic for the second consecutive year is truly a daunting task. Our hope is that this guide, coupled with the input of local health officials will help the state’s education community as they prepare for September.”

Key takeaways

  • The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status and community transmission levels.
  • Masks are recommended for school events and athletics while indoors, per the CDC.
  • The CDC recommends that schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing, to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. 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 important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as cohorting.
  • A distance of at least 6 feet is recommended between students and teachers/staff, and between teachers/staff who are not fully vaccinated. Physical distancing is not required on school buses.
  • The CDC states that, permitting large groups of students to eat in the cafeteria should be based on community transmission rates.
  • The CDC no longer recommends temperature screenings or screening questionnaires at school.
  • According to the CDC, people who are fully vaccinated do NOT need to quarantine after contact with someone who had COVID-19 unless they have symptoms. However, fully vaccinated people should get tested 3-5 days after their exposure, even if they do not have symptoms, and wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until their test result is negative.
  • So long as allowed by public health officials, schools should be open for in-person teaching and learning, and students should be in school.
  • In case of school closures due to a declared public health emergency, schools must be prepared to provide remote instruction.

NYSED Guidance

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