Skip to main content
Full Menu Close Menu

COVID Guidance: 2023-24

See our FAQ below and relevant DOE documents regarding COVID-related health guidance and absence policies for the 2023-24 school year. Read a summary of the COVID protocols for this school year. 

DOE Personnel Memo, No. 1 2023-24(July 2023)
DOE Health Guidance 2023-24 (Sept. 2023)

Please note: The CDC updated its guidance on COVID-19 on March 1, 2024 to eliminate the requirement that people who test positive for COVID-19 isolate at home for five days before returning to work or school. The DOE’s COVID leave policy for UFT-represented employees, however, has not changed. UFT members may still use COVID days if they test positive for COVID, even though DOE employees no longer are required to isolate for five days.

COVID-related absences

If I test positive for COVID-19, how many days will I be paid without having to use my own 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?

You may take an excused leave at full pay for up to two weeks while symptoms persist, but must also provide documentation that you have symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking diagnosis with a COVID-19 test within three days after you 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 seek COVID-19 testing.

If a member has COVID-19 and needs hospital care, how long will they continue to be paid?

If you are hospitalized or in a rehabilitation facility due to a COVID-19 illness, you will be paid in full during such care and will continue to receive excused leave at full pay until 10 working days after you have been released to convalesce at home.

Will staff get time off to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or a booster?

Members will receive up to four hours of paid release time per vaccine or booster dose. 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 vaccine or booster to your administrator.

If I have side effects after taking a COVID-19 vaccine or booster dose and feel sick, am I entitled to paid time off?

Yes, if symptoms consistent with vaccine side effects (fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, joint pain, nausea vomiting, etc.) develop within three days after receiving a booster or vaccine dose, you may be absent without using CAR days as part of the cumulative two weeks of COVID-related leave. 

Will I have time off to take my child for a COVID-19 vaccine or booster dose?

Members may take up to four hours of excused leave for travel during scheduled work hours to accompany their child or children to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or a booster dose Members with more than one eligible child should make every effort to schedule appointments at the same time. Time utilized beyond the four hour period will be charged against the employee’s sick leave.

Members should notify their administration at least three calendar days before their child’s or children’s scheduled administration of the vaccine or booster. Documentation of the scheduled vaccination time and the receipt of each required vaccination, including the date and time of administration, must be provided.

Will I be paid if I am required to care for someone who must quarantine as a result of COVID-19?

Members can use CAR days or sick days over the existing limit of three such days per year if they must care for a family member who is home and has a documented COVID-19 illness, or to care for their child whose school or place of care has been closed for reasons related to COVID-19. Use of CAR or sick time in this case must not exceed more than 12 weeks total per school year. 

I have tested positive for COVID-19 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?

Members receive a total of two weeks of paid excused leave for COVID-related absences throughout the school year, even if they have multiple or repeat qualifying circumstances, without charges to your CAR bank. After you have used up the maximum amount of two weeks, any additional time needed will be charged to your CAR balance. 

What type of documentation am I required to submit for a COVID-related absence?

DOE employees must be able to provide documentation, if requested, to support their request for an excused absence due to COVID-19. In addition to a positive COVID test result, additional documentation could be from a health care provider and/or governmental order, as applicable. Extended absences may be subject to further medical review by DOE.

Would I be eligible for an excused leave at full pay if I test positive again for COVID-19 within three months?

Individuals who test positive within three months after recovering from your first COVID-19 infection will not receive COVID-excused leave during that three-month period unless you are exhibiting new COVID-19 symptoms.

Do part-time employees qualify for excused leave due to COVID-19? 

Part-time employees may receive excused leave for absences due to COVID-19 equal to either the total number of hours that they are expected to work in a two-week period, or the average number of hours they have worked in a two-week period for the last six months preceding their leave.

COVID-related health policies

Will staff members be required to quarantine if they have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19?

No, as long as they are asymptomatic. Individuals who have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 do not have to quarantine if they are not showing symptoms of COVID-19. Masking is strongly encouraged for anyone recently exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 for a period of 10 days from the date of exposure. 

Will there be a requirement for visitors to school buildings to show proof of vaccination?

Visitors to school DOE school buildings are no longer required to provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccine before entry.

Will masks continue to be optional for all students and staff?

Masking will be optional for students and staff at all grade levelsMasking is strongly encouraged for anyone recently exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 for a period of 10 days from the date of exposure. However, masks are required for those returning to school during days 6-10 after testing positive.

Will masks be available at schools for staff who want to continue wearing them?

Schools will continue to provide masks by request for staff and students. Principals may also purchase their own supplies of PPE to supplement DOE supply at their own discretion. 

What types of COVID-19 tests are accepted by the DOE?

Acceptable forms of COVID-19 tests include: a NAAT or molecular test, such as PCR; or, a lab-based antigen test; or, an in-home FDA-authorized antigen diagnostic "rapid" test including tests distributed by the DOE.

Will rapid tests continue to be distributed at schools? 

Rapid tests will be available at schools by request for students or staff who have been exposed to someone who tested positive or who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.

How should I report a positive result on a rapid test taken at home?

If you test positive from an at-home rapid test, you should immediately report it to your school and begin isolating. Principals will report positive results to the DOE.

Do my COVID-19 rapid tests expire on the date listed on the package? Will results be valid if I use them after the deadline?

In many cases, the FDA has extended the expiration dates beyond the deadlines listed on rapid test packages. An extended expiration date means the manufacturer provided data showing that the shelf-life is longer than was known when the test was first authorized. For more information about how the expiration date is determined and why it may be extended, see the FDA's FAQ. You can also go to the FDA website to see if the expiration date for your brand of rapid test has been extended.

Are COVID-19 tests covered by city/DOE insurance plans? 

COVID-19 tests administered at medical facilities are covered but may be subject to co-payments or deductibles, depending on your plan. After the federal COVID-19 health emergency order expired last May, insurance plans no longer cover self-administered rapid tests. COVID-19 tests at city-run facilities remain free of charge. Learn more or make an appointment

Will air purifiers be used in classrooms and other indoor spaces this year?

Two air purifiers will be provided for each classroom. 

Will there be deep cleanings of schools this year?

This is up to the discretion of individual principals and custodians rather than a system-wide mandate. 

How can I improve ventilation in my classroom to help minimize the spread of COVID-19? 

In each classroom, it is advisable to keep two to four top windows open with an opening of approximately three inches each. Ensure that your radiator is clear of items on top and directly in front of it so your room can be heated effectively. Schools that have a modern HVAC system and/or a supply air system (blowers) do not need to rely on their windows for ventilation. In these schools, ensure that you are not blocking any vents and radiators.