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August 12, 2021
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JP O'Hare

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State Education Department Issues Health and Safety Guide to Reopen New York State Schools

Towards the aim of keeping students and staff healthy and safe, being responsive to student needs, and maximizing in-person teaching and learning, the New York State Education Department today released a health and safety guide to help schools and school districts as they plan for the 2021-22 school year.  The health and safety guide provides schools with a resource to safely start the school year and sustain the educational process in a manner that serves all students and supports their return to in-person learning in partnership with the communities they serve.  The guide is based on the best health and safety information currently available and will be updated as public health conditions change.

“As we prepare for schools to reopen in September, our priority must be to provide leaders with access to information about practices that have proven effective throughout the pandemic,” said Chancellor Lester W. Young.  “The Department’s health and safety guide is a concise resource that will assist districts as they mitigate risks to the health and safety of students, teachers and school staff while providing flexibility for schools to address their own unique circumstances in a manner that best meets the needs of all students.”

“At a time when schools are preparing to reopen and the COVID positivity rate is increasing, we must ensure our schools and districts have the most up-to-date resources and mitigation strategies available to keep our children and school staff safe,” said Commissioner Betty A. Rosa. “Reopening amidst a pandemic for the second consecutive year is truly a daunting task. Our hope is that this guide, coupled with the input of local health officials will help the state’s education community as they prepare for September.”

The guide provides strategies, based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics, to position schools and districts to manage the risks for students and staff from COVID-19 while supporting engaged learning for all students. This guide is designed to be used in conjunction with the numerous other local, state, and national resources available to schools.  Administrators are strongly encouraged to partner with their local department(s) of health, director of school health services, and other health professionals when developing their policies and responding to health and safety concerns that may arise during the school year.

The Department’s health and safety guide addresses questions related to: COVID-19 vaccinations, monitoring community transmission, wearing of masks, physical distancing, sports and extracurricular activities, COVID-19 screening, health questionnaire screenings, contact tracing, COVID-19 related facilities projects, remote instruction, and funding sources available to schools and districts that may help with preparing for the upcoming school year and beyond.

The health and safety guide, as well as other back to school resources, are available on the Department’s Back to School website.