NEW YORK CITY — More than 500 classrooms were closed in just a week of classes at New York City’s public schools due to more than 1,200 positive COVID-19 tests and thousands of students forced into quarantine.
The stark numbers have forced the department of education to make changes to its safety protocols; naturally, not everyone is on board.
Classroom closures and quarantine
In an effort to keep more kids in school and out of quarantine, the mayor announced safety protocol changes for public school students — a move that loosens some restrictions in order to keep classrooms open. The mindset: test students more and keep them in the classroom, with officials saying there’s not a valid reason to send vaccinated students home to quarantine if the protocols are followed.
Going forward, 10% of unvaccinated students — with parental consent — will be tested weekly, instead of every other week. Plus, unvaccinated students are allowed to remain in classrooms as long as they were masked and 3 feet away from an infected student.
If the positive case is from a teacher, all unvaccinated students in the classroom will quarantine.
The mayor said the guidelines are in line with CDC requirements, but some officials are concerned that in school buildings, it’d be nearly impossible to determine who had been exposed and who hadn’t with the new rules.
Some parents, too, were concerned that students who may have been exposed — even vaccinated and masked ones — won’t be sent home.
“They need to quarantine if someone has COVID,” said parent Agatha Gomez. “This is so contagious.”
These changes go into place Monday.
Also beginning Monday, all school staff will need to show proof of vaccination.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is one of the voices behind a push to vaccinate more kinds, and said all options are on the table: including possible student vaccine mandates.
Hochul said she’s watching the numbers like a hawk and would support vaccine mandates if more vaccine-eligible students aren’t vaccinated voluntarily.
The most recent city data showed that, as of Tuesday, 71% of 12 to 17-year-olds are vaccinated.
Bronx mom and local PTA president Angela Torres spoke with the PIX11 Morning News and shared her reaction to the new rules, saying many parents are outraged: