COVID testing required in schools


ALBANY — Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Thursday that her strategy to reopen schools safely advanced on two fronts.

The Public Health and Health Planning Council passed an emergency regulation and the Health Commissioner issued a determination requiring all teachers, administrators and other school employees to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing unless they show proof of vaccination, with either a CDC vaccine card or the Excelsior Pass.

Hochul also announced that the New York State Department of Health has finalized and released official guidance for classroom instruction.

The announcements follow Hochul’s announcement last week of a mask requirement for everyone in school buildings during instructional hours and extracurricular activities.

The guidance prioritizes in-person learning and details recommendations and requirements for vaccinations, face masks, physical distancing, and testing to monitor potential transmission, among other areas. The guidance largely tracks with the CDC guidance which districts were advised to follow. It is also intended as a floor and schools have the flexibility to go beyond the guidance.

“My top priority is to get children back to school and protect the environment so they can learn, and everyone is safe,” Hochul said in a news release “We are now issuing guidance to make sure our school staff are vaccinated or tested regularly for themselves and their families, our students, and our communities.”

The emergency regulation, which authorizes the Commissioner to require weekly testing or proof of vaccine, will apply to all schools in New York State until it is no longer necessary.

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