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Updated COVID-19 Guidance

March 1, 2022

On March 1, 2022, the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Education Department released updated COVID-19 guidance for public school districts.  This updated guidance is explained in the Frequently Asked Questions that appear below.

Masking & Social Distancing

Are masks required to be worn indoors at school?

Mask-wearing is now optional in all indoor settings at school, including classrooms, cafeterias, school buses, and during extracurricular activities, and  sports.  The District expects that all students, faculty, staff, and members of the public will respect these guidelines and the decisions of others regarding mask-wearing. 

May individuals continue to wear a mask at school if they choose to?

Yes, individuals may choose to wear a mask for any reason (e.g., because they want increased protection, in order to protect family and friends, or for any other reason).

If an individual at higher risk for severe COVID-19 disease attends school, should the entire classroom mask routinely?

There is no NYSDOH requirement for students or staff to disclose any medical conditions that may increase their risk of severe COVID-19. There is no requirement that other individuals in the classroom wear masks routinely because of the presence of a person at risk of severe COVID-19.

If a person tests positive for COVID-19, do they have to wear a mask when they return to school?

According to NYSDOH, individuals who test positive for COVID-19 are required to isolate for at least five (5) days and may return to school after the fifth day if their symptoms are improved or resolved and fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.  The individual is required to wear a mask in school on days 6-10 following the positive test date or the onset of symptoms.  

If a person has a known exposure to COVID-19, should they wear a mask?

NYSDOH recommends that exposed individuals monitor for symptoms, wear a mask in school and while in indoor public spaces for 10 days after exposure, and get tested.

Can the Westchester County Department of Health reinstitute the masking requirement in schools?

Yes, the local health department may institute stricter guidance than the state, such as requiring masking in school if the county COVID-19 community burden is high.

Will students still be required to maintain social distancing in school?

No, students are not required to maintain social distancing in classrooms, in cafeterias, on school buses, or during extracurricular activities, including sports.  The option for students to socially distance during lunch will be available on a short-term basis as we transition back to a normal school experience.

Exposure & Contact Tracing

How is exposure defined? How do you tell when an individual is exposed to COVID-19 and should therefore wear a mask and undergo testing? What does “potentially exposed” mean?

Exposed students are those who meet the definition of a “close contact” to an individual with COVID-19.  A close contact is a person, regardless of vaccination status, who was less than 6 feet away from an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (for example, three individual 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes).  A potential exposure is when a positive case occurs in a group setting, such as a classroom, but it is not known if close contact occurred.  NYSDOH recommends that anyone who has had exposure to a known close contact or a potential exposure should monitor for symptoms, wear a mask in public, and get tested.  Exposure is not a reason to exclude an individual from the classroom setting or school, unless the individual becomes symptomatic.

Will the school notify individuals of possible exposure?

When the school becomes aware of a positive case, individuals who may have been exposed will be notified by email and will be advised of the recommended precautions they should take (i.e., monitor for symptoms, wear a mask in public, and get tested).

Will students, faculty or staff who have had exposure to COVID-19 be required to quarantine and be excluded from school?

No, individuals who have had exposure to COVID-19 are not required to quarantine, regardless of their vaccination status.  If they become symptomatic, then they need to stay home, get tested for COVID-19, and follow isolation protocols if they test positive.

Testing

Are students, faculty and staff still required to get tested if they experience COVID-19 symptoms?

Yes, students, faculty and staff are required to stay home and get tested if they have COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of vaccination status.  COVID-19 symptoms include fever over 100° Fahrenheit without the use of fever suppressing medication, shaking or chills, cough, congestion or runny nose, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, unusual or significant fatigue, persistent muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, or new loss of taste or smell.

The individual may return to school when their symptoms are improving, and they are fever-free (without the use of fever reducing medication) for at least 24 hours, AND (1) have a doctor’s note indicating they do not require a COVID-19 test OR (2) have a negative rapid antigen or PCR test.  Negative test results from a rapid antigen home test can now be accepted by the District provided that two rapid antigen tests are given at least 24 or 36 hours apart, consistent with the instructions that accompany the test kit.  Photographs of the two test results labeled with the date and time each test was administered must be submitted as proof of a negative test result.  Parents should consult with their pediatrician if a child becomes symptomatic or has a positive test result at home.

For more information on the District's COVID-19 Symptom Management Protocol, CLICK HERE.

Will the District continue to provide Test to Stay (TTS) for students who have had close contact with an exposed person?

Test to Stay was a strategy that allowed students to remain in school after being exposed to someone with COVID-19, rather than quarantine at home. The core principles of TTS have been integrated into the new guidance, such that persons who were exposed to someone with COVID-19 should monitor for symptoms, wear a mask, and get tested after exposure. NYS school guidance no longer requires people who were exposed to someone with COVID-19 to be automatically excluded from school.  Therefore, TTS is no longer required for students who have had exposure to attend school.

Will the school district continue to provide voluntary PCR testing to faculty, staff, and students whose parents have provided consent?

Yes, in partnership with Mount Sinai Hospital, the District will continue to provide weekly PCR testing to faculty, staff, and students whose parents have provided consent.

Will the District continue to provide rapid antigen test kits for use at home?  Can the results from rapid antigen at-home tests be used to clear a symptomatic student's return to school?

Yes, the District currently has enough free test kits to provide rapid antigen test kits (there are two rapid tests in each kit) to students, faculty and staff.  Test kits may be picked in the main office of each school.  Negative test results from a rapid antigen home test can now be accepted by the District provided that two rapid antigen tests are given at least 24 or 36 hours apart, consistent with the instructions that accompany the test kit.  Photographs of the two test results labeled with the date and time each test was administered must be submitted as proof of a negative test result.  Parents should consult with their pediatrician if a child becomes symptomatic or has a positive test result at home.