Letter for Families – January 3rd, 2022

January 3, 2022

Dear Families,

We hope you had a restful holiday and were able to spend time with your loved ones. As we welcome students back into our classrooms from a well-deserved winter break, our highest priority continues to be the health and safety of our students, families, and staff. To this end, we are putting additional health and safety measures in place to ensure students and staff are safe and that our schools can continue to be open.

The following updates were made in partnership with our City and State public health colleagues and are based on federal and scientific guidance.

Home Test Kits
● Beginning January 3, schools will distribute free, take-home COVID-19 rapid test kits to any student or staff who exhibit COVID-like symptoms or have been in a classroom where a positive case has been identified.
● If your child was exposed to COVID-19 at school, please help your child take the first test on the day they receive the home test and help your child take the second test five days after exposure or at the first indication of symptoms.
– Your child may continue to attend school as long as your child receives negative test results and does not experience any symptoms of COVID-19.
– If your child has COVID-like symptoms or feels ill before the fifth day, please have your child isolate and take the second home test immediately.
– If your child tests positive on either home test, your child must isolate for 10 days following the first positive result. Please contact your child’s school immediately to inform them and for further guidance.
● If your child had symptoms of COVID-19 at school, please help your child take the first test immediately and help your child take the second test 24 hours later.
– Your child may not attend school until they receive negative results on both of these home tests taken within 24 hours of each other and have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication OR if your child receives a negative test result from a PCR COVID test.
– If your child tests positive on either home test, your child must isolate for 10 days following the first positive result. Please contact your child’s school immediately and report the test results.
● Any student who tests positive on a take-home test should immediately report it to the school and begin isolating. Students who test positive must isolate for 10 days and can return to school on Day 11. No negative test is required to return to school.
● As a reminder, all students, staff and visitors must pass the DOE health screener in order to enter school buildings. Additional questions will be added to the health screeners for those students and staff who receive at-home rapid test kits to share their negative result. No other proof of a negative result is required in order for these students to enter the school building.

New Quarantine Policy
Our goal is to ensure that students safely remain in school as much as possible, and we have updated our policies to ensure we meet this goal. This means that if there is a positive case in a classroom:
● For students in kindergarten through grade 12, unvaccinated or not yet fully-vaccinated students who were in close proximity to a positive case will no longer have to quarantine and will continue attending school if they do not have symptoms and do not have a positive test result from a COVID test. Instead, all students and adults in that classroom will receive a take-home rapid test kit and take two tests over the course of five days.
● For students in 3-K and Pre-K, the quarantine policy will remain the same, meaning that any 3-K or pre-K student who was in close proximity to a positive case will still have to quarantine for 10 days.

Increased In-School Surveillance Testing
To further ensure the safety of our students, families, and staff, the in-school surveillance testing program is expanding to double the number of individuals tested in each school, including both vaccinated and unvaccinated students, in grades 1 and up. The random in-school surveillance program continues to provide public health experts with an accurate look at the prevalence of COVID-19 in schools. We encourage all families who have not yet submitted consent, regardless of whether their child is vaccinated, to consent to in school testing through their NYC Schools Account (schoolsaccount.nyc) or return a signed paper form to the school. Additional information on testing for students and the printable version of the consent form in multiple languages can be found on the New York City Department of Education (DOE) website:
Testing is a critical part of keeping schools open and communities safe. Thank you to those families who have already consented to testing, and for your cooperation by participating in our in-school testing program!

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 continuous 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.
We know that nothing is more important to you than keeping your children in school, learning in healthy and safe environments. The changes we are announcing today aim to keep students in our classrooms with the least amount of disruption as possible, while putting their safety front and center.
We will continue to update you as the situation changes and hear your feedback on these updated policies and procedures. We thank you in advance for partnering with us to keep our children and staff safe in school.

In partnership,
David C. Banks
New York City Schools Chancellor

Letter for Families

December 2021

Dear Families,

As the holidays approach, we wish all our families a safe and healthy holiday season. We know that COVID-19 delta and omicron variants may be on your mind and we want to make it clear that that the health and safety of our children, families, and school staff is our highest priority. Vaccination is our best tool in maintaining safer schools and defending against COVID-19. If you have a child who is at least 5 years old and not yet vaccinated, we strongly encourage you to get them vaccinated as soon as possible with the Pfizer vaccine (the only vaccine authorized for children age 5-17).

As a reminder, if your child is fully vaccinated, they do not need to quarantine and miss school if exposed to a person with COVID-19. As long as your child is fully vaccinated (meaning that it has been at least 2 weeks since the second COVID-19 vaccine dose) and does not have COVID-19 symptoms, they can attend in-person school after being exposed. Also, students age 5 and older participating in high-risk extracurricular sports and other high-risk extracurricular activities (such as singing and band) must be vaccinated to participate in those activities during the 2021-22 school year.

In addition, we strongly recommend that all children receive the annual flu vaccine. The flu and COVID- 19 are expected to circulate at the same time this season. Getting a flu vaccine reduces the chance of serious illness and hospitalization due to the flu and has been shown to save children’s lives. Getting both vaccines is important, because the flu vaccine does not protect against COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccine does not protect against flu. Your child can receive the flu vaccine at the same time as all other vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine. Check with your child’s health care provider to schedule a vaccination appointment or you can find vaccine sites for both flu and COVID-19 vaccines at nyc.gov/vaccinefinder.

Once your child is vaccinated against COVID-19, you can upload an image of your child’s vaccination card or NYC Excelsior Pass to the Department of Education’s vaccine portal at vaccine.schools.nyc using your child’s Department of Education account information. Submitting that information will let us know that your child does not have to quarantine if they become a close contact to a person with COVID-19.
You can find more information about the vaccine and other health and safety practices in our schools at schools.nyc.gov/2021health.

For more information on the COVID-19 vaccines, including vaccine sites, visit nyc.gov/covidvaccine. We wish you and your family a very happy and safe holiday season.

Dave A. Chokshi, MD, MSc
NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Meisha Porter
NYC Department of Education

Social Media School Threats

December 16, 2021

Dear Families,

It has come to our attention that there is a social media challenge proposed on TikTok and other social media platforms encouraging students to “call in bomb threats, school shooting threats, etc.” at schools across the United States. This social media challenge is not specific to only New York City, and many of the posts are general and not specific to one school.

The safety of everyone who enters our school buildings is always our highest priority and responsibility. Every threat to a school community is taken extremely seriously and we work closely with the NYPD to investigate threats made to any school community. If your school is named in a specific threat, please call 911 immediately and 1-888-NYC-SAFE. Additional supports will be deployed to the school as needed.

Safety and security are a community responsibility, and we are encouraging you to have conversations with your child about responsible social media use and the consequences of making threats. Schools and families can find information about digital citizenship on the DOE webpage: https://www.schools.nyc.gov/school-life/school-environment/digital-citizenship. Any social media posts or challenges involving threats or actions of violence against school communities will not be tolerated. Threats of violence have very real consequences regardless of the reason the threat was made, and we do not want our young people to jeopardize their bright futures over social media challenges such as these.

If you or your child witness any suspicious activities on social media, please call 911 or notify a trusted adult if at a school. We are committed to continuing to closely monitor this matter.

Thank you as always for everything you do to keep our school communities safe, and please do not hesitate to reach out to your principal.

In partnership,

Meisha Porter
New York City Schools Chancellor