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Safety & health

Information on COVID-19 related safety issues for the 2022-23 school year, with details on rapid tests, building safety, positive cases of COVID-19, masking and more.

See the DOE's School Health Policy for the 2022-23 school year.

Will there still be random PCR testing at schools this year?

Random PCR testing will not take place on site at schools this year, which is in accordance with recent CDC guidance. Four rapid tests will be provided monthly for staff and students, and additional kits will be provided if someone is exposed to COVID-19.

If I have been exposed to COVID-19, how many additional rapid tests will I receive?

If you are exposed to COVID-19,  two additional tests will be provided so staff and students can test on the fourth day after exposure and again on the fifth day.

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.

What are the requirements for school staff to be vaccinated?

DOE staff must provide proof of vaccination using the DOE’s Vaccination Portal.  Proof of vaccination can be an image of your vaccination card, the New York State Excelsior Pass or other government record. City employees who work in person in a DOE school setting or a DOE building must also provide proof of vaccination to their employer. 

Will daily screenings be used again this year?

No, daily screenings for students, staff and visitors are no longer be required. However, all visitors to school buildings must show proof of having received a COVID-19 vaccine before entering.

How will COVID-19 cases be reported after the DOE closes the Situation Room? 

The Situation Room will permanently close as of Dec. 23 and principals will no longer be required to inform school communities of individual COVID-19 cases by letter. However, principals will continue to report all cases online, and the DOE's Daily COVID Case Map will continue to be updated. See the announcement in the Dec. 20 P-Digest for more information. 

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 still be required for those returning to school after testing positive during days 6-10 or if exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 at school. Masks will also be required when entering the school medical room, the school nurse’s office or a school-based health center. 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 masks be distributed at schools for staff who want to continue wearing them?

Schools will continue to provide masks by request. Schools will maintain a 30-day supply at all times.

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 DOE employees have to provide proof they have received a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine?

At this point, booster shots are not mandated and we are unaware of any current intent to do so. We cannot, however, predict what may happen.

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

With winter approaching and new COVID-19 variants such as BQ.1 on the rise, proper ventilation in schools is important. 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. 

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

Yes. Two air purifiers will be provided for each classroom. New purifier replacements and filters will be in place for the start of school.

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. Sprayers will remain in school buildings and custodians are expected to still keep a 30-day supply of disinfectant on hand.