Once again, New York City parents are facing questions about when to keep their children home from school or get them tested for COVID as they learn of possible exposures.
To keep more children in school, the city changed its quarantine rules before students returned to classrooms after the winter break. Instead of having schools do the leg work to determine close contacts and who might need to quarantine, the city implemented a “test-to-stay” policy where all students and staff are now given two at-home tests when someone in their classroom tests positive. (While staff who test positive can now return to school after five days if they have no symptoms or mild symptoms, positive students must still isolate for 10 days.)
Chalkbeat created a flow chart to help families navigate the new policy.
Schools only give students at-home COVID kits if they are exposed to someone who is positive at school rather than at home or elsewhere. So far, of 4.5 million tests distributed to campuses, only 25,000 have come back positive, Mayor Eric Adams said Tuesday. (Some schools may offer additional COVID testing programs, and families can receive a PCR test from one of the city’s Health + Hospitals sites.)
Adams — who is in talks with the teachers union about a possible remote option to ensure children at home keep learning — has been adamant that he will keep schools open and that campuses are safe.
Only 1 in 120 students or staff developed COVID after they were in contact with an infected person at school this year, compared to a rate of 1 in 7 in a household, city officials said, citing an ongoing health department study. (They did not, however, share the study.)
Despite the efforts of the new policy to keep kids in schools, more than 200,000 students have stayed home each day the first two weeks after break, with attendance topping out at 77%. That prompted a shift in policy giving schools more flexibility to mark students present who are home doing remote work even if they don’t have COVID.
This article was originally posted on Was your child exposed to COVID? Here’s what to do next