February 4, 2022
This Family Update provides important information about our latest health and safety policies. These policies will take effect on Monday, February 7, 2022.
• COVID-19 Testing
o Increased In-School COVID-19 Testing
o Home Test Kits
o COVID-19 Testing Sites
Increased In-School COVID-19 Testing
In anticipation of the Midwinter Break, we are increasing the number of students who will be included in the city’s in-school random surveillance testing program. Beginning on February 7, schools will test the larger of either:
• 10 percent of the school’s student enrollment in grades 1 through 12, up to a cap of 250 students
• 20 percent of the school’s unvaccinated student population
This change allows schools with highly vaccinated student populations to test a larger group of students every week. Additionally, 10 percent of staff continue to be able to get tested weekly.
We encourage all families to consent to in-school testing through their NYC Schools Account (schoolsaccount.nyc) or return a signed paper form to the school. More information about COVID-19 NYC DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION - 2 - testing in schools and printable version of the consent form in multiple languages can be found at schools.nyc.gov/covidtesting.
Testing is a critical part of keeping schools open and protecting the health of our students, staff, and neighbors. Thank you to those families who have already consented to testing for your support and partnership in keeping our school communities safe!
Home Test Kits
During the week of February 14, schools will distribute at-home rapid test kits to all staff and students ages two and up. You can watch videos in multiple languages on how to use your test kit at schools.nyc.gov/HomeRapidTestKits.
We strongly encourage all staff and students to take an at-home rapid test before returning to school on February 28, regardless of their vaccination status. Staff and students are not required to show proof of a negative test result before being allowed to return to school.
If your child tests positive on a home test, your child must isolate for 5 days if they are in grades K–12, or for 10 days if they are in a LYFE, EarlyLearn (infant & toddler), 3K, or Pre-K classroom, following the positive result. Please contact your child’s school immediately and report the test results. K–12 Students who test positive for COVID-19 and are isolating at home will continue to be provided asynchronous remote instruction and access to office hours with their teacher. If your child has recovered from COVID-19 in the last 90 days, they will not receive a test kit and may continue to attend school unless they develop COVID-like symptoms. You can find charts that outline the steps you should take if your child feels sick, was exposed to COVID-19, or tested positive for COVID-19, at schools.nyc.gov/school-life/health-and-wellness.
COVID-19 Testing Sites
The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) continues to open new testing sites throughout the five boroughs. We strongly encourage that all students get tested for COVID-19, through a PCR, lab-based rapid test, or a home test kit on a regular basis, regardless of vaccination status. For a list of testing sites, including sites with at-home rapid tests, call 212-COVID19, visit nyc.gov/covidtest, text "COVID TEST" to 855-48, or call 311 to find a nearby testing site. Additionally, many pharmacies and doctors’ offices are offering COVID-19 testing. Please check with your pediatrician’s office or local pharmacy to see if you can schedule a test. NYC DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION - 3 -
In light of the 95% reduction in COVID cases reported in schools since the peak of the Omicron surge, the Attendance Policy has been updated. Effective immediately, students participating in asynchronous remote instruction may be marked present only when isolating consistent with health guidance due to a positive COVID-19 test result.
Your school will provide details about how children in those circumstances can access remote instruction and office hours. Students who are absent for reasons other than a positive COVID-19 test result or school/building closure will be marked absent and can no longer be marked present for remote instruction
Continuation of Home Test Kit Distribution
Thanks also for your questions about the policy updates. Below are some clarifications in response to frequently asked questions this week. Please keep the questions coming!
Any student who exhibits COVID-like symptoms at school or has been exposed to COVID-19 in a classroom setting should continue to receive home test kit for use at home.
In addition, schools should continue to distribute a home test kit (2 tests) once a week to all staff members until further notice. It is recommended that the staff member use the first test on Monday and the second test on Friday. Should a staff member need an additional test kit due to extenuating circumstances, the staff member should request one from the Principal. Staff should continue to receive one KN95 mask per week upon request.
As a friendly reminder, if an individual is exposed multiple times in a week, they need only one test kit (2 tests) for the week; the two tests are sufficient for multiple exposures.
Home Test Kits for Return from Midwinter Recess
Please note that for the week of February 14, schools should distribute home test kits to all staff on Monday, February 14 and again on Friday, February 18. This is to ensure staff have a second kit (2 tests) to use before they return from the midwinter recess on February 28. All students should receive home test kits (2 tests) on Friday, February 18, even if they were exposed earlier in the week. A family letter to accompany the February 18 distribution of test kits will be available on the Messages for Families page on February 11. Please share this letter with your families when it becomes available. We want to ensure that everyone (students and staff) has a test kit to use prior to returning from the midwinter recess. Students and staff can use the second kit to test on the evening of Saturday, February 26 and the evening of Sunday, February, 27 before returning on Monday, February 28. Please note that while use of the test kit is strongly encouraged, participation is voluntary, and staff and students are not required to show proof of a negative test result before being allowed to return to work and school.
I am excited to announce Vegan Fridays, beginning tomorrow, February 4.
Building on the great success of Meatless Mondays, introduced in 2019, and Meatless Fridays, introduced in April 2021, Vegan Fridays will feature a vegan dish as the primary menu item. These menu items are plant based and made from scratch. Our team of chefs prepared these recipes utilizing high quality ingredients to ensure they would be tasty and satisfying. They meet all of the USDA child nutrition standards. Please note:
Vegan options are already offered in all schools on a daily basis, and milk is available as an option with every meal.
Further, additional options are always available, including peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and hummus and pretzels, and students will continue to have non-vegan options available to them on Fridays.