Class is back in session this week and so are the Department of Education’s COVID-19 guidelines for NYC Public Schools. Not returning this semester are mask mandates, daily screenings and random testings.

“The safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and entire school communities has been throughout the pandemic, and continues to be, our very top priority,” said a DOE spokesperson. “It is essential that our students remain in classrooms, receiving in-person instruction and the wraparound supports they need. As always, we will continue to follow the science and adjust guidance if needed.”

Vaccinations for students remain optional, but recommended. So youngsters are allowed to attend in-person, with or without their shots. Grownups are a different story, with mandates for educators, staff and visitors. 

Aforementioned mask mandates graduated last semester, lifted by Mayor Eric Adams this past March. Like vaccines, face-coverings are recommended, but not mandatory, for students unless they’re returning to class six to 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19. According to the DOE, KN95 masks for adults and regular surgical-grade masks for adults and kids are provided at schools.

In accordance with New York State Department of Health and NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene guidelines, daily screeners were expelled from city schools on Aug. 16. Students and faculty will receive four home testing kits each month. 

And those who are sick should stay home. The Department of Education says students and staff shouldn’t come to school if they display symptoms of COVID-19 or other illnesses and should get tested first. Those who test positive will need to isolate for five days. They may return after, if their symptoms are improving or gone. 

Since New York City logged off of remote learning and reopened their classrooms last September, the Department of Education records 254,752 total reported cases up to Sept. 6 of this week. 190,563 were student cases. Between DOE and Division of Early Childhood Education (DECE) schools, 4,931 classrooms and 17 campuses were closed due to COVID-19 since the reopening. 

To address the social isolation youngsters faced during the pandemic, the Department of Education hired more than 500 direct student support staff, including social workers. 

Tandy Lau is a Report for America corps member and writes about public safety for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep him writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w 

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