The city Department of Education’s COVID-related health and safety protocols for the 2022-23 school year closely follow the new COVID-19 guidelines issued by the CDC. The following Q&A answers some of UFT members’ most frequently-asked questions about the policies covering health, safety, remote learning and absences for the 2022-23 school year. Be sure to check the union’s COVID-19 info hub for updates and new information.
Safety and Health
Will masks continue to be optional for all students and staff?
Masking will be optional for students and staff at all grade levels. Masks will, however, still be required for those returning to school (or on a school bus) after testing positive for COVID-19 during days 6-10. A mask is also required when exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or when in the school nurse’s office. Anyone who has been in close contact with a person who tested positive, in school or outside of school, is strongly encouraged to wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure.
Will at-home rapid tests be distributed at schools for staff and students?
All staff and students will receive four at-home rapid tests each month. If a student or staff member is exposed to COVID-19, two additional tests will be provided so staff and students can test once on the fourth day after exposure and again on the fifth day. Random PCR testing will not take place in schools this year, in accordance with new CDC guidance.
How should I report a positive result on a rapid test I take at home?
Any staff member or student who tests positive on an at-home rapid test should immediately report it to the school and begin isolating. Principals will report these positive results to the Situation Room.
Will air purifiers be used in classrooms and other indoor spaces this year?
Yes. Two air purifiers will continue to be provided for each classroom. Replacement MERV 13 filters are in place for the start of the school year.
Will visitors still need to show proof of vaccination to enter school buildings?
Though daily screenings for students, staff and visitors have been discontinued for this school year, all visitors to school buildings must still show proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
Will DOE employees have to provide proof that they have received a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine?
At this point, booster shots are not mandated and the union is not aware of any current intent to add such a requirement.
If I test positive for COVID-19, how many days will I be paid without having to use my sick days?
If you test positive for COVID-19, you will receive five days’ pay without having to use CAR days. If you are still sick after five days, you may continue to be paid for up to two weeks, but you may be asked for medical documentation of any ongoing symptoms that prevent you from working. COVID-19 excused leave at full pay is cumulative and may not exceed a total of two calendar weeks over the school year.
If I have symptoms of COVID-19 but have not tested positive, must I use CAR days if I am absent?
To use excused leave at full pay, you must provide documentation that you have symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking diagnosis with a COVID-19 rapid or PCR test within three days after you first exhibited symptoms. You must use your own sick time for any time taken after you receive a negative test result or if you do not take a COVID-19 test.
Will I be required to quarantine at home if I have had close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19?
No. You no longer have to quarantine if you are not showing any symptoms of COVID-19 following contact with someone who has the virus. But it’s strongly recommended that you wear a mask for 10 days after exposure.
If a member has COVID-19 and needs hospital care, how long will they continue to be paid?
If you are hospitalized, you will get excused leave at full pay while receiving this care and for 10 work days after you have been released from the hospital or rehabilitation facility.
Will staff get time off to receive a COVID-19 booster shot?
Members will receive up to four hours of paid release time per booster. You must provide at least three days’ advance notice to your principal/supervisor for any such absence so appropriate coverage can be arranged. You will need to provide documentation of the appointment as well as your receipt of the booster to your administrator.
If I have side effects after getting a COVID-19 booster shot and feel sick, am I entitled to paid time off?
Yes, if symptoms develop within three days after receiving a booster shot.
I tested positive for the second time this school year. How much total excused leave time at full pay can I use before I need to use my CAR days this year?
Members have a total of two weeks of paid excused leave for COVID-related absences without charges to their CAR bank. Any additional time needed will be charged to their CAR balance. However, you may also be eligible for partial pay for up to 12 weeks, which is calculated as two-thirds of your regular rate of pay, not to exceed $200 a day or $12,000 in total.
Am I required to set up a digital classroom this school year?
Yes, all teachers and related-service providers must set up a digital classroom by Sept. 30. The set-up should include uploading necessary materials for the first day of an emergency closure. You will receive $225 on or about Oct. 31 for setting up this digital classroom. You’ll use this digital classroom to conduct parent-teacher conferences; conduct synchronous/live instruction on snow days; conduct asynchronous instruction for students who are isolating following a positive COVID-19 test (with pay for office hours); and for synchronous instruction if you must isolate/quarantine and are able to work remotely.
Will Election Day be a remote learning day?
No. This school year, Election Day will be a traditional Chancellor’s Conference Day for professional development. Students will not receive instruction of any kind on that day.