New York State Department of Education releases guidance for schools reopening

Back to School

NEW YORK STATE (WSYR-TV) — The New York State Department of Education has released guidance for schools to reopen in a 21-page guide located on the state education department’s website.

The guidelines touch on the following topics:

  • Promoting vaccination
  • Consistent and correct use of masks
  • Physical distancing
  • Screening testing to quickly identify cases
  • Improved ventilation
  • Proper handwashing and respiratory etiquette
  • Staying home when sick and getting tested
  • Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine
  • Routine cleaning with disinfection.

The guide mentions that students benefit from in-person learning, and safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall 2021 is a priority. It also stresses that vaccination is the leading public health prevention strategy to end the pandemic, and promoting vaccination can help schools safely return to in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities and sports.

It says given the prominence of the Delta variant, the department of education is following CDC recommendations for universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. In addition, the department is suggesting schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms to reduce transmission risk.

The guide also says 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 especially important to “layer” multiple other prevention strategies, such as screening testing.

The state education department’s guidelines follow closely with CDC guidance, and offers similar suggestions as 2020 guidance with updated information regarding vaccines. The document reads in part:

…many schools serve children under age 12 who are not eligible for vaccination at the time this guide was published. Therefore, reflecting CDC guidance, this document emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies (i.e., using multiple prevention strategies together consistently) to protect students, teachers, staff, visitors, and other members of their households.

New York State Department of Education Health and Safety Guide for 2021-2022 School Year

The full guide can be viewed below:

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