Stay Safe and Open Plan Unveiled | Queenswide

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The city has released details of how the children will return to school as scheduled on January 3 after the holidays.

The “Stay Safe and Open” plan will double testing at school and shorten the isolation period for fully immunized staff. Rapid home tests will be sent home with any student or adult who has been exposed to someone who tests positive for Covid.

Mayor de Blasio, Governor Hochul and Mayor-elect Adams held a press conference on Tuesday to present the new plan. Together, they urged students and staff to be tested before returning to school on Monday and encouraged all eligible students to get vaccinated.

Just under 42 percent of children ages 5 to 17 are vaccinated, according to city data.

“Every child who tests negative comes back to school,” de Blasio said. “It’s that simple. As long as they are asymptomatic and as long as they continue to be negative, they keep coming to school. We make sure every child has a test kit.

Random tests for vaccinated and unvaccinated students will increase from 40,000 to 60,000.

The outgoing mayor said this approach will ensure more consistency and less disruption.

The plan follows new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommended a shortened isolation period for those who are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic.

The mayor cited recent data, including that 98% of close contacts of Covid-19 cases are not positive for the virus.

Staff can now return on the sixth day if they have no symptoms and have not had a fever for 72 hours. On their return, they must wear a quality mask, which will be provided to them. School tests will be available again.

Asymptomatic students will not be forced to self-quarantine and can continue to attend school as long as they are free of symptoms. This is a change from the previous practice of quarantining entire classes.

The education ministry is expected to provide around two and a half million rapid home test kits, in addition to the one million test kits provided by the governor, before school resumes.

This comes as the Omicron variant has spread, especially in younger populations.

“This new variant affects children more than the previous variants,” Hochul noted at the press conference.

Recent data before the break showed 1,383 confirmed positive cases in schools across the city, 65% among students. Child hospitalization rates have also increased in recent weeks with more than 100 statewide.

Yet elected officials have argued that schools are the safest place for children.

“The numbers speak for themselves – your children are safer at school,” said Adams, who takes office on Saturday.

“Thanks to the tests, vaccinations and home test kits, we will continue to do so. We are working closely with the Blasio administration and will be ready to bring students and staff back to class on January 3rd. This is how we move our city forward.

Many parents in Queens have been pushing for schools to stay open, but there has also been a push from those wanting a distance learning option.

“I am delighted that our elected leaders finally recognize that we must prioritize in-person schooling and the rare recognition that distance learning has been a failed experience,” said Jean Hahn, a Rego Park parent and chef of the Queens Parents United group. .

Hochul said on Tuesday: “We saw the experiment fail, despite the best efforts of incredibly hard-working and passionate teachers who did their best with distance education, and parents tearing their hair out at the tables. the kitchen, trying to make sure it worked successfully. Everyone has done their part, but we also understand, as [the mayor] mentioned, schools are safe thanks to our joint mandates.

Hahn agreed the schools were safe, especially if protocols were followed. She said she was “preparing for the worst,” given the recent social media setback for teachers’ unions and their activists, and is happy to see a “test-to-stay” approach implemented.

She would, however, like to see an “expiration date” on the latest approach, including masking and surveillance tests.

“I think we know enough now where we can start to scale back some of these measures,” she said.

The Situation Room, a multi-agency partnership between the DOE, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Test & Trace Corps, will grow its staff from 275 to 500 people.

Families and DOE staff can travel to any site in town to get tested or have rapid tests at home.

Visit nyc.gov/covidtest, text “COVID TEST” to 855-48 or call 311 to find a test site.


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