New York schools to ease COVID-19 rules, no daily health screenings

New York City schools will no longer require parents to complete daily health tests for their children, according to new COVID-19 guidelines released Tuesday.

The updated guidelines for the upcoming school year also eased some protocols — such as eliminating random testing at school — but kept other vaccine requirements in place.

Children who have not been injected will continue to be isolated during some extracurricular activities, including high school sports, and school visitors — including parents — will need to show proof of one dose of vaccine to enter the building.

“Many high-risk extracurricular activities are indoors, strenuous and require closer contact than classroom activities,” said Michael Lanza, a spokesman for the city’s health department.

“The guidelines are intended to protect children both in class and in these extracurricular activities,” he said.

The updated guidelines for the upcoming school year also ease some protocols, such as eliminating random testing at school.

About 43 percent of children under 17 are fully vaccinated, according to city data. Less than half of elementary school-aged children received both doses.

Some of the activities affected by the requirement include sports, choir and band, musical theater and dance, cheerleading and step club.

Coach George Lanes, the co-founder of About-U Outreach, which uses sports to help kids focus on academics and careers, questioned the fairness of continuing the policy.

“Kyrie Irving was allowed to play,” Leinez said of the schools’ approach compared to the rules for professional athletes. “We make exceptions for people who make money.”

Children go to school.
Unvaccinated children will continue to sit on the sidelines during some extracurricular activities, including high school sports.
Matthew McDermott

Students have never been required to be vaccinated to attend class, but all DOE employees are required to show proof of vaccination.

Nearly 1,000 school workers were fired for refusing to comply with the mandate — although 82 teachers suspected of falsifying evidence were recently reinstated pending an internal investigation.

“Vaccination remains the single best defense against severe disease caused by COVID-19,” Lanza said.

At the same time, officials are phasing out surveillance PCR tests for random groups in schools. Laboratory PCR test results are considered by public health experts to be more reliable than rapid test results.

“Abolishing the tests in schools means we’re not going to catch asymptomatic people,” said Kaliris Salas-Ramirez, the Manhattan Borough President’s representative on the Education Policy Panel and a neuroscientist.

As a parent, Salas-Ramirez said the guidelines don’t go far enough to make her feel her children are safe at school.

“Especially with an 11-year-old who hasn’t gotten COVID yet and a 3-year-old who got COVID six months ago and just got vaccinated, it’s still possible for him to have a re-infection and it could be severe. ” she said.

The guidance says students and staff exposed to COVID-19 should be tested, but does not require it. Schools were told to send them home with two tests to be taken four and five days after exposure.

They are testing a child for COVID.
Approximately 43% of children under 17 are fully vaccinated. Less than half of elementary school-aged children received both doses.

Students and staff are “strongly encouraged” to wear masks after exposure, although this is also optional. Masks are still required for those who test positive for COVID-19 when they return to school up to 10 days after the onset of symptoms or the first positive test.

The city lifted the mask-wearing mandate in the spring — while the now-defunct health screenings asked students and families to certify they were free of symptoms, from a fever to a cough or sore throat. He also asked about positive results and close contacts in the past five days.

But Queens parent Jean Hahn still had concerns about the latest terms as her daughter — a dancer — enters sixth grade.

“It will be harder for her to meet other kids and make friends at her school,” Khan said.

The Department of Education referred questions about the policies to health officials.

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