New York City schools will no longer need to require parents to fill out daily health screenings for their children, according to new COVID-19 guidance released Tuesday.
The updated guidance for the coming school year also eases some protocols – like eliminating random testing in schools – but retains other vaccine-related requirements.
Children who don’t have the vaccine will still be sidelined from some extracurricular activities, including high school sports, and schoolgoers — including parents — will still be required to show proof of a vaccine dose to enter the building.
“Many high-risk extracurricular activities are conducted indoors, are strenuous and require closer contact than classroom activities,” said Michael Lanza, a spokesman for the city’s health department.
“The guidance is designed to protect kids both in class and in these extracurricular activities,” he said.
According to city data, around 43% of children under the age of 17 are fully vaccinated. Less than half of the elementary school-age children received both doses.
Some of the activities affected by the requirement include sports, choir and band, musical theater, as well as dance, cheerleading and step club.
Coach George Lanese, the co-founder of About-U Outreach, which uses sport to help kids focus on academics and careers, questioned the fairness of continuing that policy.
“Kyrie Irving was allowed to play,” Lanese said of the schools’ approach versus the rules for professional athletes. “We make exceptions for people who make money.”
Students have never had to be vaccinated to attend classes, but all DOE employees are required to provide proof of vaccination.
Nearly 1,000 school workers have been fired for refusing to comply with the mandate – although 82 teachers suspected of providing falsified evidence were recently reinstated on the payroll pending an internal investigation.
“Vaccination remains the single best protection against serious illnesses caused by COVID-19,” Lanza said.
At the same time, officials are also issuing surveillance PCR tests for random groupings in schools. Laboratory results from PCR tests are considered by health professionals to be more reliable than rapid test results.
“Getting rid of testing in schools means we won’t be catching asymptomatic people anymore,” said Kaliris Salas-Ramirez, Manhattan Borough President’s representative on the Education Policy and Neuroscientists Panel.
As a parent, Salas-Ramirez said the guidance doesn’t go far enough to make her feel her children are safe at school.
“Especially with an 11-year-old who has not yet gotten COVID and a 3-year-old who got COVID six months ago and has just been vaccinated, it is still possible that he has reinfection and that it is severe , ” She said.
The guidance says students and staff exposed to COVID-19 should be tested, but don’t require it. Schools were instructed to send them home with two tests to be taken four and five days after exposure.
It is “strongly recommended” for students and staff to wear masks after exposure, although it is also not required. Masks will remain mandatory for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 when they return to school until 10 days after the onset of symptoms or the first positive test.
The city scrapped the mask mandate in the spring — while now-defunct health screenings asked students and families to confirm they had no symptoms from fevers to coughs or sore throats. It was also asked about positive outcomes and close contacts within the past five days.
But Queen’s parent Jean Hahn still had concerns about recent mandates as their daughter – a dancer – is in sixth grade.
“This will make it harder for her to meet other kids and make friends at her school,” Hahn said.
The Department of Education directed questions to health officials about the guidelines.
https://nypost.com/2022/08/16/nyc-schools-to-ease-covid-19-rules-nix-daily-health-screeners/ NYC schools to ease COVID-19 rules, no daily health screenings