NEW YORK STATE (WIVB)– New York State has released a new set of guidelines schools must adhere to, specifically addressing areas in the orange and red zones.
The state is reversing course, no longer requiring schools in the red or orange zones to stop in-person instruction.
Schools in the orange zone:
According to the NYS Health Department, schools in the orange zone are required to test 20% of in-person students, faculty, and staff for COVID-19 “over the one month period following the zone designation.”
In addition, the state is requiring “the numbers tested should be proportionately spread across the month with 10% the maximum/minimum to be tested biweekly.”
Schools in the red zone:
The Health Department says schools in the red zone are required to test 30% of in-person students, faculty, and staff for COVID-19 “over the one month period following the zone designation.”
The state is requiring “the numbers tested should be proportionately spread across the month with 15% the maximum/minimum to be tested biweekly.”
Schools in either a red or orange zone:
The state tells us schools will be required to close if their COVID-19 test sampling returns 9 or more positive cases. Or schools outside of New York City reach a 3% or higher positivity rate from a weekly testing sample of more than 300 people.
The threshold for schools in NYC is a 2% positivity rate.
Officials say that schools in the red and orange zones must continue to follow existing state restrictions. The state is also requiring the following protocols:
- Ensure face coverings are worn by students, faculty, and staff, in accordance with
Department of Health’s (DOH) Interim Guidance for In-Person Instruction at Pre-K
to Grade 12 Schools.
- The school should ensure that it provides the opportunity to be tested on school
grounds, or otherwise support testing and/or accept test results from healthcare
N.Y.S. addressed school’s testing options:
- Schools can accept written test results from healthcare providers;
Schools can have students, faculty, and/or staff go to a test site run by New York
State to have specimens collected for testing;
- Schools can establish partnerships with other entities who are authorized to
perform testing to have their students, faculty, and staff tested;
- Schools that currently have a limited service laboratory (LSL) registration can add
COVID-19 antigen testing to their existing LSL registration, request to receive rapid
tests from the state and perform testing on their students, faculty, and staff; or
- Schools can become approved to perform testing by obtaining an LSL registration
and once approval is granted, request to receive rapid tests from the state and
perform testing on their students, faculty, and staff. For schools that do not have an
LSL, Local Health Departments (LHDs) are required to allow schools to operate
under their LSL for the purposes of conducting weekly testing. If the LHD does not
have an operational LSL or is unable to support the school in conducting testing,
the LHD must work with the school to identify community partners with an LSL.
- Schools can utilize pooled testing. However, pooled testing must be conducted by a laboratory that is approved to conduct diagnostic pooled testing so that individuals
receive their test results and they can be reported to the state.
The state says that if schools fail to comply with the new guidelines, they will have to remain remote-learning and face fines and penalties.
Notwithstanding a school’s compliance with the testing requirements, New York State andNew York State
DOH reserve the right to keep any school closed if there is determined to be a threat to public
health or extenuating circumstances exist.
If you have questions, the state asks you email: Covid19rapidtest@health.ny.gov