Multiple COVID cases at school don’t trigger a health department. evaluation

Multiple COVID-19 cases in New York City public schools will no longer trigger “epidemiological assessments” by the health department, according to an internal memo from The Post.

The city’s Department of Education memo to school principals is coming the new Omicron sub-variant BA.2 raises fears of a possible increase.

If multiple cases emerge in classrooms or sports teams, school leaders should distribute COVID-19 home testing kits to students who have been exposed, the memo said.

The Superintendent’s Office can help assess “what might be causing the increase in transmission” and consult with the Office of School Health “to minimize further transmission”.

“I didn’t realize that epidemiology was one of my director’s duties,” said a Brooklyn administrator, who asked not to be named without permission from the DOE to speak.

The Kings County school superintendent said the new policy, which went into effect March 14, left him and several colleagues confused.

“Right now it’s the honor system,” said the principal. “The kids are coming back to school and you don’t know if they’ve been tested or what the results were.”

A COVID-19 rapid test swab is processed Tuesday, August 24, 2021 at Palos Verdes High School in Palos Verdes Estates, California.
The city’s health department will mandate school principals to issue COVID-19 tests to students who test positive.
Brittany Murray/The Orange County Register via AP
GoDocs team members help distribute 2000 Binax COVID-19 home test kits to people on Junction Blvd.  in the borough of Queens in New York City, NY, December 23, 2021.
School administrators argue the city’s health department is forcing them to do extra work monitoring COVID-19 cases.
Anthony Behar/Sipa USA

“We think they want to reduce the staffing in the Situation Room,” he added, referring to the team of DOE and health officials overseeing COVID cases in schools.

“That’s how they do it and put it on us.”

DOE spokesman Nathaniel Styer denied any changes in the Situation Room’s procedures.

A view of Pre-K students at Yung Wing School PS 124 on January 13, 2021 in New York City.
City Hall recently lifted mask requirements in schools, with the exception of children under the age of 5.
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

“There’s a citywide move away from universal contact tracing, but the same alerts and systems are in place in our schools,” he said. “The Headmaster’s request remains the same as it has been since January.”

The current threshold for measuring transmission is 10 cases in a classroom or sports team, although officials said that figure could be checked again as the pandemic progresses. At the Brooklyn Administrator’s building, cases have never reached that number at any point during the pandemic, he said.

The policy change comes after the Post reported that the principals will earn Millions in overtime pay for an avalanche of work imposed by the Situation Room, including tracing which students and staff have been exposed to COVID and notifying families.

Students are ushered into their classroom by a teacher at Yung Wing School PS 124 on March 07, 2022 in New York City.
The Department of Education reported 205 new coronavirus cases on March 17, 2022.
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

On Thursday, the DOE reported 205 new COVID cases — 145 students and 60 staff. No classrooms were closed or quarantined.

The health department did not respond to a request for comment. Multiple COVID cases at school don’t trigger a health department. evaluation


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