NYC school reopening agreement details monthly COVID-19 testing program

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NEW YORK — To avoid the possibility of a teachers strike, New York City reached an agreement with the United Federation of Teachers, which includes monthly COVID-19 testing at school buildings.

Under the school reopening agreement, educators and students are subject to random COVID-19 testing once in-person learning resumes on Sept. 21.

About 10% to 20% of all students and adults from every city Department of Education school will be selected for testing, according to the UFT.

Testing is free to participants, and results would be available within 48 hours, according to the agreement.

With testing conducted throughout the year, students who are selected for testing but did not obtain parental or guardian consent, will be moved to remote learning.

Any staff member who elects not to participate will be placed on unpaid leave.

Students or staff who test positive for the virus, even if they are asymptomatic, will be required to quarantine for 14 days.

Tracing teams will be dispatched to the school to determine potential contacts.

Parts of the testing agreement between union and city are still being finalized.

Prior to the agreement, the UFT had issued demands to ensure students and staff could return to school safely, including a mandatory COVID-19 testing program — a major sticking point for the union that was not addressed in the Department of Education’s initial reopening plans.

UFT presiden Michael Mulgrew, who joined the mayor during a coronavirus briefing Tuesday morning, said the city’s revised and delayed reopening plan now has the stamp of approval from independent medical experts.

Schools had been closed since mid-March to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza initially expected to have students return to classrooms on Sept. 10 to begin the year with blended learning, but that raised concerns by many parents and educators.

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