State reverses, allows NYC to mandate student COVID-19 testing for in-person learning

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NEW YORK CITY — The state of New York is now allowing New York City schools to mandate COVID-19 testing for in-person learning, in a reversal of its previous position.

The announcement was made in a letter sent out by Kathleen DeCataldo, the BOE’s assistant commissioner for the office of student support services. You can read the full letter here.

The state now says that the city and other districts can mandate COVID-19 testing for in-person learning as long as they have the blessing of local health officials.

“School districts may not require parent/guardian consent for COVID-19 testing of students in order for the students to participate in in-person learning or other school activities, unless local health authorities direct schools otherwise,” DeCataldo said in the memo.

The head of the city’s largest teacher’s union praised the move.

“Random COVID testing has been an important part of our success in making schools the safest public spaces in New York City during in-person learning,” United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement. “Under SED’s new amended guidelines, the city can maintain its aggressive testing regimen and help ensure the safety of students, staff, and their families.”

Back in December, 12,000 students were forced into remote learning when their parents declined to consent to COVID testing in schools.

Under an agreement the city made with the United Federation of Teachers union, 10% of all students, first grade and up, must be randomly tested to keep tabs on possible coronavirus spread in schools.

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