Health and Safety

Capacity

In order to provide the maximum number of students access to in-person instruction at each school while following health and safety plans, students will rotate in groups between in-person and remote learning (known as blended learning for the purposes of this document). Each school was provided a preliminary estimate of what their space allows when accounting for social distancing. These building capacity calculations allow for at least six feet of space to be maintained around each person in a classroom, while ensuring that there remains room for teachers and students to circulate. 

NYCDOE has developed three baseline programming options for schools to choose from. The models, having been created by analyzing system-wide constraints, researching national and international best practices, surveying families and students, and by holding focus groups with school leaders, are meant to support schools in determining how to serve the needs of their students and families in line with health and safety guidance. These models apply to Elementary (including early childhood grades), Middle, and High Schools. Two additional models are available for District 75 schools, a citywide school district with schools that provide highly specialized instructional support for students with significant challenges, such as Autism Spectrum Disorders, significant cognitive delays, emotional disturbances, sensory impairments, and multiple disabilities. Schools will be able to apply for an exception to implement an alternative model based on that school’s specific needs.

Families will be notified of their student’s specific schedule in August. More details on programming models can be found here: https://www.schools.nyc.gov/school-year-20-21/return-to-school-2020/schoolschedules.

Families will also have the choice to opt-in to an all-remote schedule next fall. Students will not need a medical reason to register for this option. Families will have the option to transition to blended learning during set time periods for their child, and will be asked to register two weeks prior to the start of when their child would switch to-in person instruction to give schools time to plan. Principals will make further adjustments based on expected in-person student and staff attendance for the first time in August. 

Social Distancing

Safely reopening schools for in-person learning means significant changes to classroom capacity. In order to fully comply with the CDC and New York State’s physical distancing requirements that reduce the spread of COVID-19, schools will operate at significantly reduced capacity for in-person instruction, with, on average, between one third and half of the student population attending at one time.

Maximum capacity has been determined using a formula that calculates the space needed to maintain six feet of physical distance and comply with other COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Every school will be required to ensure that all individuals stay at least six feet apart at all times, including at building entry, during movement through hallway and stairwells, while in classrooms and shared spaces, and in elevators.

NYCDOE will continue to support schools in ensuring that conditions make physical distancing possible. Schools will receive signage, including but not limited to signs to remind individuals to remain six feet apart, signs to support appropriate movement protocols, and floor markers that show six feet in distance.

NYCDOE will support schools in redesigning movement protocols within a building to minimize congestion, including but not limited to designating one-way direction stairwells, single file routes, and requiring students to stay on campus during lunch periods. This includes larger shared spaces (e.g.: gyms, cafeterias, auditoriums, school-yards) and protocols on entrance and departure from the building. 

Shared Spaces

General Protocols 

  • Physical distancing guidelines and mandatory use of face coverings must be enforced for all individuals while in the building. Exceptions to face covering usage are as follows: 
    • Students who cannot tolerate a face covering medically, including where students with such coverings would impair their physical or mental health, will not be subject to wearing a face covering. 
    • Where the use of face covering is inappropriate considering the development level or age of the student. 
  • Appropriate signage (e.g., six-foot space markings and directional signs) should be used outdoors as needed, and must be visible upon entry and throughout school buildings, including entrances, exits, classrooms, offices, public assembly spaces and corridors. 
  • Signage, face coverings, and other forms of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as hand sanitizer, gloves, and thermometers, will be provided by Central. 
  • Hand sanitizing dispensers will be installed throughout co-located spaces and high traffic areas. 
  • Wellness barriers will be provided by Central, to be placed in the general office and at the main school safety desk. 
  • Co-located schools will receive a wellness barrier for each school’s general office. 
  • Custodians will sanitize school building on a nightly basis with an electrostatic sprayer that is CDC approved. Cleaning and disinfection will include all high touch surfaces: classrooms, desks & chairs, conference tables, drinking fountains, door handles and push plates, conference tables, light switches, restroom fixtures, partitions and hardware, buttons on hardware, buttons on vending machines, elevator buttons, gym padding, and physical therapy equipment. 

Student Circulation 

  • School leaders must create plans to support movement that upholds physical distancing throughout the building, e.g. the use of one directional stairwells and single file travel patterns. 
  • Elevator use should be limited to individuals with special needs or in high-rise buildings and should be operated at limited capacity as per current DOHMH guidance (2 persons per elevator), and face coverings must be worn at all times.
  • Face coverings must be worn at all times except while eating or drinking.
  • Per State DOH guidelines, appropriate signage, e.g., directional markers and physical distancing guidelines, must be displayed on walls and floors throughout all travel routes. 
  • Travel areas should be appropriately staffed to support students with physical distancing guidelines. 
  • To reduce movement throughout the building, teachers should travel from class to class, with students remaining in the same room throughout the day to the extent possible. If students have to travel, proper social distancing protocols should be followed. 
  • Where possible, students should remain with the same group of students, in a cohort, throughout the day.
  • NYCDOE is developing additional guidance as it relates to cohorts and grades. NYCDOE will support creation of cohorts wherever possible. 
  • Where feasible, co-located schools should have designated hallways and stairwells. For co-located campuses, Building Council discussion should take place in order to norm student movement. 

Bathroom Usage (For Students and Staff) 

  • Bathroom use must not exceed established cap (based on physical distancing guidelines) at any given time. 
  • Schools may adjust how bathrooms are used to accommodate for physical distancing requirements, e.g., use of alternate stalls and/or sinks. 
  • Appropriate signage regarding hand washing and physical distancing must be displayed. 
  • Where feasible, co-located schools should have designated bathrooms 

Public Assembly Spaces 

Use of large assembly spaces (e.g. cafeterias, auditoriums, libraries, and, gymnasiums) must comply with physical distancing guidelines. These areas may be used as additional classroom spaces in lieu of or in addition to their traditional use. 

Cafeterias may be used for instructional spaces depending on school need. Cafeterias may only be used for food service for students who are receiving their instruction there. Cafeterias must adhere to the same health and safety protocols in classroom settings. School leaders should refer to the Physical Education Expectations for In-Person and Remote Instruction policy when making decisions regarding the use of gymnasiums. 

Spaces accommodate different sections of students on any given day. As always, Building Councils in co-located campuses must agree on how spaces will be shared and used. 

Building Council decisions around the allocation of shared space should be driven by several factors, including number of shared spaces, number of schools, number of students in each school, as well as selected instruction models will require cleaning between uses. 

Some approaches which may be applied to the decision-making process, using the cafeteria and auditorium spaces as examples, include:

  • Space Designation - In this scenario, school A utilizes the cafeteria exclusively as classroom space while School B utilizes the auditorium exclusively. 
  • Alternating Days - In this scenario, school A utilizes the cafeteria on Mondays and Wednesdays while School B uses it on Tuesdays and Fridays. 
  • Rotation Schedule - In this scenario, Schools A and B utilize the cafeteria and auditorium respectively one week and schools C and D utilize it the following week. This rotation would repeat in subsequent weeks. 

Exterior Spaces/Play Yards 

  • Multiple cohorts of students may use larger exterior spaces concurrently, provided that physical distancing is practiced between and within cohorts and students are well supervised. 
  • Blending of different cohorts or school organizations should not be permitted as it could complicate contact tracing efforts and increase risk of transmission. 
  • Co-located schools should ensure that spaces are shared equitably and safely. 
  • Ground markings may be used to encourage physical distancing. 
  • Schools should endeavor to maximize the use of outdoor space for multiple uses, including instruction where feasible and appropriate. 

Student Dismissal

  • Schools must adopt procedures that allow students to engage in physical distancing while exiting the building. 
  • Additional school personnel should be deployed strategically to assist students. 
  • Schools must identify designated points of egress using signage visible to all.
  • Schools should consider the use of staggered dismissal times and multiple exits. 
  • Co-located schools should use separate exits to the extent possible. 
  • For students being dismissed, e.g., play yards, physical distancing markers and directional signs must be in use. 
  • Families must be aware of exit procedures and encouraged to arrive at designated times to avoid congestion. 
  • Schools must assign staff to school yard or exterior of school to encourage students and parents to not congregate outside.
  • Conspicuously post signage at points of egress identifying the dismissal protocols and DOHMH’s four core actions to stop the spread of COVID-19: stay home if sick, keep physical distance, keep your hands clean, and wear a face covering. Signage will be available in multiple languages.

PPE and Face Coverings

The mandatory use of face coverings while on NYCDOE property must be enforced for all individuals, including staff, students, and essential visitors, with the exceptions below. NYCDOE will communicate, educate, and reinforce the required wearing face coverings with families engaged as full partners in this process. Exceptions to face covering usage are as follows: 

    • Medically verified students who cannot tolerate a face covering, including where students for whom the use of such coverings would impair their physical or mental health; 
    • Where the use of face covering is inappropriate considering the development level or age of the student (e.g. under two years old);
    • Guidance and policies will account for any modifications to social distancing or PPE that may be necessary for certain student or staff populations, including individuals who have hearing impairment or loss, students receiving language services, and young students in early education programs, ensuring that any modifications minimize COVID-19 exposure risk for students, faculty, and staff, to the greatest extent possible. 

    With the exceptions discussed above, face coverings are required for all individuals while on school property. NYCDOE is procuring and distributing appropriate PPE, including face coverings, for students, staff and essential visitors to use when inside school buildings.

    Students, staff, and essential visitors are able to bring their own face coverings, but if they are not able to or forget, every school will have centrally provided face coverings readily available to be provided to anyone who requires a face covering.

    NYCDOE will communicate, educate, and reinforce personal protective behaviors, such as the required wearing of face coverings, with families engaged as full partners in this process. Signage will also be provided to remind students, faculty, and staff of the importance of wearing appropriate PPE, especially face coverings. 

    Hygiene, Cleaning, and Disinfection

    The Division of School Facilities has drafted a Cleaning Protocol that follows CDC guidance in addition to State DOH guidance. Routine cleaning is an important part of standard infection control practices. Please refer to the State DOH guidance for areas of focus.The State DOH guidance also outlines additional procedures to perform in the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a school. NYCDOE buildings will now perform these enhanced cleaning procedures everyday regardless of any confirmed case of COVID-19.

    Custodian engineers will continue to comply with instructions on building ventilation and opening of windows. Custodian engineers will continue to purchase EPA-registered anti-viral products as described in the State DOH guidelines. All products are to be used according to the label instructions. 

    Hand and Respiratory Hygiene

    NYCDOE plays a vital role creating a safe and positive environment for students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students and staff will need to thoroughly clean their hands as soon as possible upon entry to the school building. In addition, students will be expected to clean their hands repeatedly throughout the day, including but not limited to, between classes, before and after physical education, and before and after meals/snacks.

    NYCDOE believes that it is critical that students do everything possible to keep themselves safe from spreading COVID-19 and has created age-appropriate (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12) lessons to help students learn about hand and respiratory hygiene. In the elementary grades, students practice handwashing, explore feelings around face coverings, and design a unique mask. At the secondary level, students practice responding to scenarios related to face coverings and peer pressure, set goals around health-enhancing behaviors, and develop a PSA to encourage others to wear face coverings and keep a safe distance. These lessons can be taught in classroom settings, physical education class, health education class, advisory or other classes.

    When students can learn, practice, and demonstrate health-related skills, they are much more likely to adopt and maintain healthy behaviors. Comprehensive health education classes at the elementary, middle and high school levels provide students with additional opportunities to build on these skills as they relate to disease prevention and social, emotional, and mental health.

    To reinforce students’ learning from the aforementioned lessons, NYCDOE will provide printable posters to each school to remind students of these important hygiene protocols. NYCDOE will also provide additional printable posters for schools to use as is appropriate for individual spaces, including directional signs.

    Visitors

    Minimizing opportunities for spread is a necessary component for maintaining health and safety in NYCDOE schools. In an effort to limit the number of visitors in a school at any given time, as recommended by the CDC, schools are encouraged, where possible, to address all visitor and parent concerns by phone or virtually. Principals and designated staff should conduct meetings remotely, where possible.

    When it is essential to hold an in-person meeting, all visitors are required to follow the visitor control protocols, including undergoing a temperature check, completing a health screening form, complying with physical distancing requirements and wearing a face covering.

    All visitors must receive a visitor’s pass, which must be returned upon exiting the building. All visitors must be escorted to and from the meeting destination, in order to prevent visitors from accessing unauthorized areas, limiting the possibility of exposure. If a parent is called to the school to pick up their child, the child must be brought to the main lobby to meet the parent.

    Non-essential individuals should not be allowed to enter school buildings. All packages are to be delivered to the main lobby in a manner consistent with physical distancing protocols, or to another location if proper physical distancing cannot be met with lobby deliveries.

    Co-located schools must be aligned on policies governing how adults are allowed to enter and traverse the building.

    Schools must develop practices to eliminate the need for families to enter school buildings to drop off or pick up children, except for 3-K and Pre-K families during the first month of school.

    Early Childhood Contracted Programs

    Prior to re-opening, all NYC community based organizations contracting with NYCDOE to provide early childhood services, must train their staff in the relevant health and safety guidance, complete an affirmation online, and complete and post the NYS Business Reopening Safety Plan Template (in addition to updating existing safety plans). Community Based Organizations will also review a readiness checklist, complete a staffing planning tool and develop plans for Continuity of Learning that addresses in-person, remote, and hybrid models of instruction together with a member of the NYCDOE early childhood team, and have ongoing touchpoints with early childhood team members throughout the year.

    Accommodations for At-Risk Students and Staff

    Families can opt into 100% remote learning at any time. Families who choose 100% remote learning can opt back into blended learning on a quarterly basis during a set timeframe that will be communicated clearly to families. Families can utilize this form to indicate their preference: https://www.nycenet.edu/surveys/learningpreference 

    NYCDOE employees who are older adults and/or have underlying medical condition(s) that create an increased risk of severe illness should they contract COVID-19 may be eligible for a reasonable accommodation to work remotely at the start of the school year.

    Requests for reasonable accommodations to work from home will be considered in accordance with relevant disability laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and consistent with applicable health guidance, CDC guidance. Staff will be required to provide supporting medical documentation with their application.

    Schools and offices may consider the needs of individuals who may not feel comfortable returning to an in-person educational environment when making assignments and modifying work settings and/or schedules where possible. 

    Before and Aftercare

    As students in New York City return to schools after months of isolated and sedentary living, it is more important than ever to support and promote opportunities for physical activity and safe socialization during and after the school day. Extracurricular activities and before or after school programs serve as a critical means to cultivate student voice, empower youth, and provide access to experiential opportunities and skill development to children who would not otherwise be afforded such opportunities.

    All extracurricular and afterschool activities, inclusive of Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD) elementary school and middle school programs, must adhere to the guidelines and recommendations set for school opening, including all health and safety guidelines. NYCDOE will be issuing additional guidance on afterschool programming, but it is important to note that afterschool programs will require increased custodial labor and programs will incur extra extended use costs to pay for those services. Additionally, afterschool programs must adhere to NYCDOE health policy regarding face coverings and other personal protective equipment and these programs will be required to provide those items for staff and students.

    As of the submission of this document, the New York State Department of Health has stated “interscholastic sports are not permitted at this time.” NYCDOE will comply with this regulation and specific Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) and CHAMPS (middle-school, afterschool physical activity program) guidance on those official offerings will be forthcoming when interscholastic sports are permitted to resume.

    When schools are deciding what extracurricular and afterschool activities should be offered this school year, the following factors must be considered:

    • The level of risk of COVID-19 transmission.
    • Associated modifications that will be needed to lower transmission risk.
    • In what form the activity will be possible.
    • Level of interest in the activity from students and families.

    All extracurricular activities that include physical activity must also be consistent with applicable CDC and State DOH guidance related to sports and recreation, for example as related to minimizing or eliminating touching of shared equipment, maintaining social distancing, minimizing or eliminating contact or physical closeness between participants, and conducting activities outdoors when possible. Certain activities pose a higher risk for transmission than others. The higher the risk, the more modifications will be needed OR the activity may not be able to be offered at the outset of the school year.

    Schools offering extracurricular and afterschool programming will uphold the following:

    • Any in-person activity that takes place after the regular school day should be limited on a daily basis to students who were in physical attendance on that given day within the same school building.
    • Schools should keep students in the same groupings during the day and in afterschool programming (e.g., by age, by class/cohort).
    • Wherever possible, schools should work to offer remote options for those students not attending in-person. 
    • After hours dismissal procedures should align with school day dismissal processes and adhere to health and safety protocols. If a student feels unwell prior to or during an afterschool activity, the school should follow standard COVID response protocols. 
    • Afterschool program staff who work at a location or school other than where they are supervising afterschool activities/coaching are required to follow daily entry protocols upon arrival to the afterschool site. 

    School Safety Drills

    NYCDOE is taking active measures to protect both the health and safety of students and staff. Currently, all schools must implement a General Response Protocol (GRP) which provides specific directions that staff and students will take in an emergency that may result in an evacuation, shelter-in or lockdown.

    In accordance with New York State Education Law Section 807, all schools are required to conduct four lockdown drills per year in addition to eight evacuation drills, for a total of twelve emergency drills annually. In order to ensure that schools can effectively implement these drills and respond to emergencies, principals are required to attend a training that covers GRP and Building Response Team (BRT) as well as the establishment of a command post. 

    During this pandemic, the existing emergency drill practices remain in effect with the following modifications related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In an actual soft or hard lockdown, the priority is maintaining the safety of all students and staff. In an actual evacuation/emergency, the priority is exiting the building safely and expeditiously; as outlined in NYSED guidance, in an actual emergency, it is understood that physical distancing may not be possible. 

    Evacuation drills during the COVID-19 pandemic will be conducted as follows:

    • All students must participate in drills. 
    • With consideration to overall number of students and physical distancing guidelines, drills may be conducted in stages rather than all at once. For instance, instead of an evacuation drill being executed for the entire building, it can be conducted in stages with select floors participating at one time. 
    • If schools conduct a drill in stages, all students must participate in a staged drill before the completion of the school day e.g., first and third floors conduct drill in the morning; second and fourth floors conduct drill in the afternoon).
    • School must schedule drills to ensure that each group of the school’s blended learning schedule has an opportunity to participate in a drill.
    • For instance, if the first drill of the school year includes students in Group A, schools must schedule the second drill when Group B is in session. 
    • Students should exit the building and proceed to their staging area in single file lines. Staff not assigned to students at time of drill should monitor staging areas. 
    • Students should be instructed to maintain a distance of six feet to comply with physical distancing guidelines and to wear a face covering. 
    • While younger students may be accustomed to exiting the building holding hands, for now this must be discouraged. 
    • Older students should be instructed to refrain from congregating in groups and remain in single file lines while exiting the building. 
    • Expand street staging areas which might require extending current staging area to an additional block from the school. It is best to assess this in advance and inform all staff of any changes that must be made. 
    • All physical distancing guidelines must be followed as students and staff re-enter the building after any evacuation drill or emergency.
    • Lockdown drills during the COVID–19 pandemic will be conducted as follows:
    • All students must participate in drills. 
    • When scheduling a lockdown drill, schools must ensure that each cohort of the school’s blended learning model has an opportunity to participate in a lockdown drill. 
    • During a drill, students should be instructed to remain in their seats and remain silent instead of moving to the safe corner.
    • All instruction and movement within the classroom must cease until the lockdown drill has been lifted. 
    • All classrooms and offices must be provided with materials to cover the door visual panel during a lockdown drill (i.e. shade, poster board, non-flammable fabric, etc.) 
    • In larger spaces such as the gymnasium, cafeteria, auditorium, or library, students will be required to remain seated and silent until the drill has ended. In an actual soft or hard lockdown emergency, the priority is the immediate safety of all students and staff, and complying with physical distancing guidelines may not be possible nor should it be a priority. As mentioned above, during a soft or hard lockdown drill, students remain in their seats, however, in an actual soft or hard lockdown, students and staff must move to the safe corner and remain there until it is safe to move. 

    COVID-19 Safety Coordinator

    The safety and security of our students and staff is of the utmost importance. NYCDOE regularly assesses existing systems for effectiveness and makes revisions as necessary, specifically aligned to any current conditions. A vital component of emergency readiness, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, is the Building Response Team (BRT). While the principal leads the school in ensuring compliance with the NYCDOE reopening plan, the BRT is a school-based team that is activated to manage health and safety incidents or emergencies.

    The BRT will be responsible for managing and supporting the school’s response to any incidents related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes collaborating with the principal to plan and execute morning entry plans. Schools and campuses must identify individual staff members to become BRT members, who receive training in order to perform their duties.

    As schools prepare for reopening, the principal and the Building Response Team (BRT) receive training around enhanced COVID-19 response protocols. This training will cover the COVID-19 School Health Policy including the identification and utilization of Isolation Rooms as well as protocols to follow when there is a suspected case or a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the school building.

    During the school year, the BRT Leader may activate some or all of the team members based on the incident/emergency. When BRT is activated to address COVID-19 related incidents (“COVID-19 activation”), team members will assume the following additional responsibilities:

    • BRT Leader: serves as the point of contact for all team members during entry, dismissal, and all other specific activities where the COVID-19 activation occurs during the school day. 
    • Emergency Officer: provides support based on the specific circumstances of each incident.
    • Incident Assessor: conduct an on-scene initial assessment of the incident or emergency to assess the severity of the situation (while collaborating with the Internal Subject Matter Experts).
    • Special Needs Coordinator: For the purpose of COVID-19 activation, manages the school staff assigned to conduct temperature screening at each point of entry.
    • Assembly Point Coordinator: Coordinates the entry/dismissal process, as well as common areas to ensure physical distancing is followed.
    • Recorder: Collects detailed information from the beginning to the end (recovery phase) of an incident.
    • The Nurse, Custodian, and School Safety Agent (SSA) serve as Internal Subject Matter Experts.

      For any COVID-19 activation, all BRT roles (except for the BRT Leader) should have additional school staff assigned to each role based on the size of the school population and school schedule

    Monitoring

    Screening

    Daily health screenings for students and school-based staff, including temperature checks, must be completed at home by families and by school-based staff. NYCDOE will launch a robust education campaign that makes clear to parents and school-based staff how important these daily health checks are to keeping school communities healthy and safe. NYCDOE is committed to the purchasing of thermometers for at home use for families who may need them.

    School-based staff and students cannot report to school if they have: 

    • Experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 (chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea), including a temperature of greater than 100.0°F, in the past 14 days; 
    • Been knowingly in close or proximate contact in the past 14 days with anyone who has tested positive through a diagnostic test for COVID-19 or who has or had symptoms of COVID-19 (fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea); 
    • Tested positive through a diagnostic test for COVID-19 in the past 10 days; AND/OR 
    • Traveled internationally or from a state with widespread community transmission of COVID-19 per the New York State Travel Advisory in the past 14 days.

    Every morning, prior to entering the school, specific staff will perform random samplings of temperatures for both students and school-based staff using non-touch thermometers, in addition to the required at-home temperature checks. Additional guidance on random temperature screenings is forthcoming.

    • Schools should screen people entering the building at random.
    • Face coverings and gloves will be worn continually by the designated staff taking temperatures. 
    • Schools are prohibited to record or track student or staff temperatures or other health information. 
    • Any student with a temperature of more than 100.0 from a random temperature check cannot enter the building; however there may be circumstances where the student, for safety purposes (e.g. the student arrived on a school bus and is of a young age), should enter the building.
      • The student with an elevated temperature must be escorted to the Isolation Room to be evaluated by the nurse or health professional.
    • NYCDOE-contracted Community-Based Organizations providing early childhood services must continue to conduct daily health checks and align with NYCDOE- and DOHMH-issued guidance that pertains to their program and setting.
    • NYCDOE is also exploring enhanced at-school temperature check protocols and processes and will ensure compliance with State health guidance.
    • Families will be informed in writing that should a student present with symptoms of COVID-19 while at school, the staff will separate the ill student from the rest of the school until the student can be picked up by a guardian. 

    Testing (Updated 9/1/2020)

    New York City will make COVID-19 testing readily available for all its residents, including children, at over 200 locations across all five boroughs. NYCDOE encourages all its students and school-based staff to get tested within seven days of reporting to buildings and at regular intervals throughout the remainder of this crisis. In order to support testing, New York City will prioritize testing for NYCDOE students and staff and rapid communication of test results at any of its 34 city-run testing locations.

    Once in-person learning has commenced, the NYC DOE will implement the Random Sample Survey of COVID-19 in Schools, a robust program of repeated random sampling and COVID-19 testing of adults and students present in DOE schools. 

    • Obtain written parental /guardian consent for students to be tested in school from every possible student/parent at the beginning of the school year and continuously throughout the school year, including consent to have results shared with NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Test & Trace Corps, and Department of Education as necessary. Parents will be informed that, as testing is performed throughout the year, if parental/guardian refuses to provide consent for a student who has been selected randomly for testing, the student will be moved to the remote learning cohort.
    • Obtain consent from teachers and staff to have results shared with NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Test & Trace Corps, and Department of Education as necessary.
    • Establish mandatory time every month at each school dedicated to conducting the Random Sample Survey of COVID-19 in Schools beginning October 1. The percentage of individuals to be tested will be determined by the number of students enrolled in the school who have opted into blended learning in order to create a statistically significant sample size
      • 20% of the individuals in schools with fewer than 500 students
      • 15% of the individuals in schools with 500 to 999 students
      • 10% of the individuals in schools with 1000+ students
        • Test and Trace Corps and DOHMH will utilize a sampling technique based on standard protocols, working with outside experts.
        • All UFT titles will be required to participate in the Random Sample Survey of COVID-19 in Schools program. In the unlikely event a UFT member is selected for random testing and refuses, they will go on unpaid leave.
        • Other school staff will also be asked and are expected to participate in the Random Sample Survey of COVID-19 in Schools program.
    • Specimen collection will be conducted or supervised by appropriate personnel from City agencies, outside organizations, and/or outside contractor nurse support.
      • Each school’s need for testing support will be evaluated based on the number of students and teachers that must be tested
      • Self-collection kits for COVID-19 PCR testing will be an option, but other testing methods will be evaluated and considered for potential use as they become available.
      • Test and Trace Corps and DOHMH will provide kits to each school each month to collect specimens and will work with DOE to collect specimens on site in each school each month (or, in certain circumstances, at an appropriately designated off-school site or at home as necessary).
    • Students and staff are required to report any positive test result, either taken independently or through this random COVID-19 testing program, to the DOE
    • There will be a weekly meeting of all stakeholders to review the implementation of the Random Sample Survey of COVID-19 in Schools program and resolve any issues that arise in the process.

    Early Warning Signs (Updated 9/1/2020)

    The health and safety of students and staff are of the utmost priority when considering reopening schools. In order for school buildings to reopen and stay open, the percentage of positive tests in New York City must be less than 3% using a 7-day rolling average. School buildings will need to close and revert to fully remote learning for all students if the percentage of positive tests in New York City is equal to or more than 3% using a 7-day rolling average. It is important to note that the above threshold is just one trigger for closing school buildings, but may not be the only trigger. For example, a decision to close all of the school buildings in the City would be made if there were recurrent, uncontrolled outbreaks of COVID-19 in schools, even if the overall case rates across New York City were to remain low. Likewise, a decision to close individual schools would be made where there were multiple cases of COVID-19 identified (see “School Closures”).

    If any zip code within NYC reports a percentage of positive tests of 3% or higher using a 7-day rolling average, the city will deploy additional testing efforts within the community, including, but not limited to, increased testing of individuals in schools, opening new testing sites, door-to-door canvassing and targeted robocalls. The closure of school buildings within these communities, if necessary, will continue to be governed by the “School Closures” policy set forth herein.

    Containment

    Symptomatic Student at School

    Families and staff must know and be reassured that schools will take every precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within school communities. One of the key actions in preventing the spread of COVID-19 is isolating when sick. School-based staff members will be trained prior to the arrival of students to serve as critical partners in alerting the school administration if a student develops COVID-19-like symptoms during the school day.

    In order to protect students and staff members from potential exposure to COVID-19, every building must designate space to be used as an Isolation Room. An Isolation Room is a place where a student with suspected COVID-19 symptoms can be safely isolated in the building and where they can be seen by a healthcare professional and/or picked up by a guardian.

    Students who are at school and show symptoms of COVID-19 must be escorted to the building’s Isolation Room and evaluated by a nurse or health care professional. The nurse or health professional will evaluate the student for symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, lack of sense of taste or smell, and other symptoms.

    Should the nurse/health professional be unavailable to examine the student or if a school does not have a nurse or access to a health professional at that time, the student must wait in the Isolation Room until picked up. The area where the individual was originally showing symptoms must be cleaned and disinfected. After the student is picked up the Isolation Room, the Isolation Room must be closed and a deep cleaning must be performed before it can be used again.

    A family member or guardian will be contacted by a staff member and asked to pick up the ill student. Upon pick up, the nurse/health professional and/or school staff will advise the family to visit a doctor and get the student tested for COVID-19, and provide the information of the closest testing site, if asked. While home, the student should participate in remote learning if feeling well enough. 

    The principal will designate a staff member to supervise a student in the Isolation Room. The nurse/health professional and any additional staff supervising the Isolation Room must be given the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including, but not limited to, N95 masks, gloves, gowns, and face shields or goggles.

    Symptomatic Staff Member at School

    Should a staff member present with symptoms of COVID-19, the staff member will be directed to leave the building, seek immediate medical attention, and get tested for COVID-19. In either case, the area where the individual was showing symptoms must be cleaned and disinfected.

    Returning to School After Showing Symptoms

    Any individual showing signs of COVID-19 can only return to school when all the following conditions are met:

    • Received a positive COVID-19 test AND
    • Isolated for 10 days AND
    • Presents clearance from a healthcare provider AND
    • The individual has been symptom free for 24 hours without the use of medication. 

      OR 

    • Received a negative COVID-19 test AND
    • Presents clearance from a healthcare provider AND
    • The individual has been symptom free for 24 hours without the use of medication. 

      OR 

    • Never got a COVID-19 test AND
    • At least 10 days since symptoms started AND
    • Presents clearance from a healthcare provider AND
    • The individual has been symptom free for 24 hours without the use of medication. 

    Positive COVID-19 Case

    Schools will take every precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within school communities. Individuals exposed to COVID-19 must quarantine in order to stop the spread of the virus; this includes both students and staff members who test positive for COVID-19 and those who are considered close contacts of a positive case.

    In the case of a positive COVID-19 test of someone in a school building, the following protocol will be followed:

    • DOHMH will notify the principal and Central NYCDOE of the confirmed case.
    • The principal will then notify the Building Response Team, superintendent, and inform affected teacher(s). 
    • The Building Response Team notifies the Borough Safety Director.
    • All students and teacher(s) in class(es) with a confirmed case are assumed close contacts and are instructed to quarantine for 14 days since their last exposure to that case. 
    • In schools where students travel between classes, the school must require quarantine for individuals in all classes attended by the confirmed case.
      • Note: A negative COVID-19 test result for a student does not reduce the 14-day quarantine period. 
    • Learning continues remotely for students who are in quarantine. 
    • NYC Test + Trace Corps will interview the case and school administration to establish if there were any other additional close contacts. 
    • NYC Test + Trace Corps will interview staff members to verify levels of contact with the confirmed case.
      • If a staff member is deemed NOT a close contact, then the staff member can opt to return to school.
      • If a staff member is considered a close contact, then the staff member is required to complete the 14-day quarantine.
    • The school must communicate to all families and students at school when a case is confirmed by DOHMH. 
      • Families of students who are confirmed close contacts of the positive case must receive a letter stating that their child has been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual; this letter gives clear direction to quarantine for 14 days, get tested for COVID-19, and see a medical professional; 
      • Families of students who are not considered close contacts must receive a letter stating that there was a confirmed case of COVID-19 at the school, but that their child is not considered a close contact and therefore there is no need to quarantine. 
    • Healthcare and mental health and wellness resources will be shared with the school community. 

    Returning to School After COVID-19 Exposure

    Individuals exposed to COVID-19 must quarantine in order to stop the spread of the virus; this includes both students and staff members who test positive for COVID-19 and those who are considered close contacts of a positive case.

    Anyone with a positive COVID-19 test (staff, teacher, student) must isolate for a minimum of 10 days and cannot return to school/work until the following criteria are met:

    • Presents clearance from a healthcare provider evaluation AND 
    • The individual has been symptom-free for 24 hours without the use of medication. 

    Per NYC Test + Trace Corps and DOHMH, all students and teacher(s) in class(es) with a confirmed case are assumed close contacts and must be instructed to quarantine for 14 days since their last exposure to that case. In schools where students travel between classes, the school must require quarantine for individuals in all classes attended by the confirmed case. Learning will continue remotely for all students who are in quarantine due to this incident.

    Any individual who is considered a close contact of a positive case can only return to school when all the following criteria are met:

    • The individual has completed a 14-day quarantine regardless of symptoms or test results since their last exposure to that case AND
    • Presents clearance from a health care provider evaluation AND
    • The individual has been symptom free for 24 hours without the use of medication. 

    Contact Tracing

    In order to protect students and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, DOHMH will support schools by investigating confirmed COVID-19 cases. DOHMH and the NYC Test + Trace Corps, will perform contact tracing as recommended by the CDC, which is a key strategy for preventing further spread of COVID-19. DOHMH will support with rapid identification of close contacts within a school to identify individuals who need to quarantine.

    A positive case can be reported to a school in several ways:

    • NYC Test + Trace Corps finds through case interview
    • Staff or parent alert school
    • Staff or parent alert DOHMH hotline

    NYC Test + Trace Corps and DOHMH will begin investigating self-reported positive COVID-19 test results from a school community within three hours.

    One Confirmed Case in a School:  

    • DOHMH will notify the principal and Central NYCDOE of confirmed case.
    • Principal notifies Building Response Team, superintendent, and informs affected teacher(s).
    • Building Response Team notifies Borough Safety Director.
    • All students and teacher(s) in class(es) with a confirmed case are assumed close contacts and are instructed to quarantine for 14 days since their last exposure to that case.
    • In schools where students travel between classes, the school must require quarantine for individuals in all classes attended by the confirmed case.
    • Learning continues remotely for students who are in quarantine.
    • A negative COVID-19 test result for a student does not reduce the 14-day quarantine period.
    • NYC Test + Trace Corps contact tracing will interview the case and school administration to establish if there were any other additional close contacts.
    • NYC Test + Trace Corps contact tracing will interview staff members to verify levels of contact with the confirmed case.
    • If a staff member is deemed NOT a close contact, then the staff member can opt to return to school.
    • If a staff member is considered a close contact, then the staff member is required to complete the 14-day quarantine.
    • Schools must communicate, to all families and students when a case is confirmed:
      • Families of students who are confirmed close contacts of the positive case must receive a letter stating that their child has been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual; this letter gives clear direction to quarantine for 14 days;
      • Families of students who are not considered close contacts must receive a letter stating that there was a confirmed case of COVID-19 at the school but that their child is not considered a close contact therefore there is no need to quarantine.

     Two or More Confirmed Cases in a School:  

    • If two or more confirmed cases present within seven days of each other, NYC Test + Trace Corps and DOHMH begins investigation immediately and makes every attempt to conclude the investigation within 24 hours.
    • DOHMH will notify the principal and Central NYCDOE of the confirmed case.
    • Principal notifies Building Response Team, superintendent, and informs affected teacher(s).
    • Building Response Team notifies Borough Safety Director.
    • During the NYC Test + Trace Corps and DOHMH investigation:
      • Two or more confirmed cases within the same school (not same classroom) triggers classroom quarantines and the school is closed for a minimum of 24 hours while the DOHMH investigation is underway.
      • NYC Test + Trace Corps and DOHMH must determine by 6:00 pm whether the school needs to remain closed beyond the minimum 24 hours in order to reach the conclusion of the investigation. 
      • Two or more confirmed cases within the same class triggers a classroom quarantine, but the school stays open.
    • Once the NYC Test + Trace Corps and DOHMH investigation is complete:
      • NYC Test + Trace Corps and DOHMH investigations will result in one of the below conclusions (see table under “closure”).
      • NYC Test + Trace Corps makes recommendation to NYC Department of Buildings and Central NYCDOE on the closure of classroom(s) and/or school as well as the duration of closure.
      • Central NYCDOE informs principal and superintendent and communicates closure decision to school community.
      • School moves immediately to remote learning mode during temporary closure.
      • Students on split schedules return for in-person learning on the next assigned day following reopening.
      • Any exposed contacts will be directed to COVID-19 testing resources.

    Schools must communicate to all families and students at school when a case is confirmed. Families of students and staff who are confirmed close contacts of the positive case must receive a letter stating that their child/staff member has been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual; this letter gives clear direction to quarantine for 14 days. Families of students and staff who are not considered close contacts must receive a letter stating that there was a confirmed case of COVID-19 at the school, but that the child or staff member is not considered a close contact therefore there is no need to quarantine.

    In the event a school needs to close due to two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19, that decision will be made by NYC Test + Trace Corps, and Central NYCDOE will inform the principal and superintendent and will communicate the closure decision to the entire school community. 

    School Closures

    There are various scenarios in which a school with two or more confirmed positive COVID-19 cases may need to close. In collaboration with the health experts at DOHMH, there are five possible conclusions that may lead to partial or full closure during an investigation and after an investigation. While intermittent school closures may be disruptive to the school community, the CDC acknowledges that these types of closures are an essential part of limiting exposure to COVID-19. All schools in New York City will need to close if the percentage of positive tests are equal to or more than 3% using a 7-day rolling average.

    Conclusion of Investigation During Investigation
    (for at 24 hours) 
    After Investigation
     
    One confirmed case Close classroom, transition to remote learning Classroom remains closed for 14 days; students and staff in close contact with positive case quarantine for 14 days. 
    At least two cases linked together in school, same classroom Close classroom, transition to remote learning Classroom remains closed for 14 days; students and staff in close contact with positive cases quarantine for 14 days 
    At least two cases linked together in school, different classrooms Close school building, transition to remote learning Classrooms of each case remain closed and quarantined for 14 days, additional school members are quarantined based on where the exposure was in the school (e.g., the locker room)
    At least two cases linked together by circumstances outside of school
    (e.g., acquired infection by different setting and source)
    Close school building, transition to remote learning School opens after investigation, classrooms remain closed for 14 days
    At least two cases, not linked but exposure confirmed for each outside of school setting Close school building, transition to remote learning School opens after investigation, classrooms remain closed for 14 days
    Link unable to be determined Close school building, transition to remote learning Close school for 14 days
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