Health and Safety

Thresholds Closing Schools

Threshold for Closing Schools 

Schools will need to close if New York City meets the following:

  • The percent of positive tests in New York City is equal to or greater than 3% using a 7-day rolling average. If we cross this threshold, schools will close.

Building Safety

  • Learn about the ways the DOE is ensuring our buildings are safe for students and staff on our Building Safety page.

Food Services

Students can’t learn if they aren’t nourished. Grab-and-go meals will be available for breakfast and lunch each day, though students will also be permitted to bring their own lunch if preferred. Doing so will allow for more flexibility so students and physical distancing can be maintained during lunch time, a time when many students usually gather in one location.

  • Lunch will be in classrooms to minimize interaction between groups of students. 
  • If the cafeteria must be used, schools should maintain appropriate physical distancing. 
  • Grab-and-go meals will be delivered to students in 3K to K classrooms, and pickup points within the school will be designated for grades 1-12.

Nurses in Every School Building

Nursing coverage for schools serving Kindergarten through 12th grade is being provided through a NYC Health + Hospitals nursing contract for 400 full-time, onsite nurses. Nurses will be hired and in-place by the first day of school.

The over 2,000 early childhood care programs and new Learning Bridges childcare programs require two layers of nursing coverage. 100 contract nurses will be hired to provide geographic coverage, prioritizing the zip codes hardest hit by COVID-19, for early childhood and Learning Bridges childcare programs. Additionally, the Department of Education will contract with a tele-health nursing provider to make available a hotline accessible to all programs Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM. Program leaders, Family Child Care Network staff and home-based providers could call and consult with a nurse who would be specially trained to advise program leaders on COVID-19 and other medical questions and concerns.

Testing and Tracing

To ensure the health and safety of all students, staff, and families, we are encouraging everyone coming into our school buildings to get tested for COVID-19. It’s safe, free, and easy for everyone regardless of immigration or insurance status, and your test results are confidential. To find a testing site nearest you, visit nyc.gov/covidtest.

DOE students in grades 3k through 12 receive priority testing at 22 Health and Hospital (H+H) testing sites. DOE students are not required to bring a student ID or proof of enrollment. Parents and guardians of students are encouraged to bring their insurance card, but with or without an insurance card, there is no cost for students to get tested. Please see the COVID-19 School-Based Testing Programs page for a list of the 22 priority sites and additional details.

Beginning in October 2020, we will also begin monthly random testing of students and staff in New York City school buildings. Please see the COVID-19 School-Based Testing Programs page to learn more.

If Someone in the School Community Feels Sick 

If a student or teacher is feeling sick, they are required to stay home and, if their symptoms are consistent with COVID-19, are asked to get tested. If a student begins experiencing symptoms in school, they will be isolated and monitored by a dedicated staff member until they are picked up by their family. Staff members who become symptomatic at school are asked to immediately leave the building.

Whether symptoms begin at home or in school, there will be a clear flow of information to facilitate fast action and prevent spread. A positive confirmed case will trigger an investigation by NYC Test + Trace and DOHMH to determine close contacts within the school. Schools will communicate to all families and students at school once a case is laboratory confirmed.

The DOE is working in tight coordination with DOHMH and the Test + Trace Corps to identify, isolate, and prevent spread of COVID-19. In the event that there is a laboratory- confirmed case in a school, all students and teachers in that class are assumed close contacts and will be instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days since their last exposure to that case.

Additionally, the DOHMH and Test + Trace Corps will begin an investigation into the risk of exposure to the school community and work with the DOE to issue clear guidance and decisions for next steps based on the outcome.

These protocols center the health of our students and staff at the very core of this school year, while pursuing the resumption of in-person learning and educational services. The City will continue to closely monitor health conditions, and if community transmission begins to rise across the boroughs, a decision may be made to close all schools and switch to full-time remote learning.

For all scenarios outlined below, all post-investigation decisions on classroom quarantines or whether full school closure is required will be dependent on the specific facts of each investigation.

Conclusion of InvestigationDuring InvestigationPost Investigation
A. 1 confirmed case Close ClassroomClassroom remains closed for 14 days; students and staff in close contact with positive case self-quarantine for 14 days.
B. At least 2 cases linked together in school, same classroomClose ClassroomClassroom remains closed for 14 days; students and staff in close contact with positive cases self-quarantine for 14 days
C. At least 2 cases linked together in school, different classroomsClose schoolClassrooms of each case remain closed and quarantined, additional school members are quarantined based on where the exposure was in the school (e.g., the locker room);
D. At least 2 cases linked together by circumstances outside of school (i.e., acquired infection by different setting and source)Close schoolSchool opens post investigation, classrooms remain closed for 14 days
E. At least 2 cases not linked but exposure confirmed for each one outside of school settingClose schoolSchool opens post investigation, classrooms remain closed for 14 days
F. Link unable to be determinedClose schoolClose school for 14 days

Whenever a student is quarantining at home, the expectation is that they continue engaging with learning remotely if they are feeling well enough. If a school is closed, the principal will communicate by 6pm on the night before about the status of opening the next morning, based on the status of the investigation. We will not reopen a school building without confirmation from public health experts that it is safe.

Personal Health Measures

We must promote behaviors that reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Reopening_SocialDistancePhysical Distancing

All individuals in school buildings should remain at least 6 feet apart. We will work with schools to create conditions that make physical distancing possible.

Reopening_FaceCoveringFace Coverings

Face coverings will be required inside school buildings. Exceptions will be developmentally- and age-appropriate, consistent with guidance of health agencies, and paired with increased Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for staff. NYCDOE is procuring and distributing appropriate PPE for students and staff to use when inside school buildings.

Reopening_HandWashingHandwashing and Hand Sanitizing

There will be increased access and regular opportunities for students and staff to wash hands or use hand sanitizer throughout the day.

Reopening_StayHome_StandingFigureSignage and Floor Markings

Schools will have signage that upholds NYC Health’s Four Core Actions for Prevention.

Back to Top