NEW YORK — Mayor de Blasio rolled out many long-awaited details of how city schools will reopen this fall — now available to parents in a new handbook.
Here's a rundown of the key things to know for the new school year:
The city will consider all students who share a classroom "close contacts" — and, in the event of a confirmed case of the coronavirus in a classroom, the class will be quarantined for ten days.
But students 12 and older who are vaccinated will not need to quarantine if they are asymptomatic. The city will urge these students to tested for COVID-19 three to five days after exposure, out of an abundance of caution.
And unvaccinated students in middle and high schools can return to class earlier, after seven days, if they test negative for COVID-19.
All students in elementary school, who are too young to be vaccinated, will have to quarantine for the full 10 days when there's a positive case in their classroom.
There will be no widespread remote option for students.
But, remote learning will be available to children when they quarantine.
For elementary school students, since the entire class will have to quarantine, the remote teaching will be done by their normal classroom teacher.
But for middle and high school classes, where vaccinated students will remain in class — with their vaccinated teacher — during a quarantine, it's not yet clear who will teach students at home. Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter told NY1 she's working with labor unions to determine who will teach those students.
MASKS AND SOCIAL DISTANCING
Students and staff will wear masks at all times, and students will sit three feet apart — where possible. That's a big asterisk, and it's so far unclear how many classrooms will struggle to meet that standard.
“Schools will provide three feet of physical distancing where possible," Porter said. "This can be done in the vast majority of our classrooms, and we have been working hand in hand with our amazing principals to ensure that distancing is maximized to the fullest extent possible this year.”
The city will continue using the standard it adopted at the end of the last school year for closures — shutting down buildings only when Test and Trace and the Department of Health determine that spread is happening within the school community. This summer, that lead to just two buildings being closed, out of 800 that were open.
The city will test 10% of a school population twice a month — that's significantly less often than last year. Mayor de Blasio says the reduction is due to the impact the vaccine has made — arguing that even though children under 12 can't get the shots, the adults teaching them being vaccinated will make a big enough difference. Some have already criticized the decision to scale back testing, particularly amid concerns the Delta variant is more transmissible among children.
The city will not offer a remote option, but children who are deemed "medically fragile" can take part in a pre-existing home instruction program, where they would be taught by a certified teacher either one-on-one, in-person and at a home, or in a small group online. But the vast majority of students will be required to attend school in person.