COVID: 7 Special Situations
School Closure Due to COVID Policy
(updated April 9, 2021)
No matter what, health and safety always come first in our schools. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and the New York City Department of Education (DOE) have worked together throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to protect the health of our school communities. We are proud that this partnership has helped make New York City public school buildings some of the safest places in the city.
As the pandemic has evolved, we have updated our protocols to ensure a safe, supportive learning experience for every student. Yesterday, following guidance from the CDC and detailed review of the scientific literature, we announced changes to our COVID-19 school building closure policies to minimize disruptions to in-person learning while maintaining our steadfast commitment to health and safety.
This new policy is among the many practices we have put in place to protect our school communities, including encouraging vaccinations for all eligible New Yorkers. At least 65,000 school staff members have already been vaccinated, providing a critically important layer of protection. All New Yorkers age 16 and up are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, and we urge you to learn more and make an appointment at nyc.gov/vaccinefinder.
Here is what you need to know about the new closure policy:
When will a school close?
Beginning Monday, April 12, 2021, a school will only close if there are 4 or more confirmed COVID-19 cases from 4 different classrooms during a 7-day period, and the cases are traced to exposure inside the school as determined by the investigating team.
Many DOE buildings have more than one school within them. Any other schools in the same building will not close unless they have a separate set of 4 or more cases from 4 different classrooms traced to exposure inside the school, or there is close interaction between the schools as determined by the investigating team.
What if there are 2 or 3 cases in a school?
If 2 or 3 positive cases in different classrooms are identified within a school over a 7-day period, the affected classrooms will switch to remote learning for 10 days. The rest of the school will remain open for in-person learning.
Additionally, random testing for COVID-19 at the school will immediately be increased to include 40% of a school’s in-person population during the following week. Please note that individuals who have been vaccinated will be included in testing as of now.
What if there is 1 case in a school?
When a school has a single confirmed case, the affected classroom will switch to remote learning for a period of 10 days, just as they do now. Only unvaccinated students or staff in the affected classroom(s) will need to quarantine.
Continuing to close classrooms in response to a case of COVID-19, and increasing testing in the event of 2 or 3 cases, allows us to keep school communities safe, while avoiding closures of the whole school. We know how much continuity matters for students, staff, and families, and this approach allows for that while staying consistent with CDC guidance. It is also responsive to the many families and staff who have experienced multiple building closures this school year — and the ensuing disruption it can cause. Our goal is safety and stability for all our families.
As always, we are grateful to you and your children for your patience and persistence during this challenging school year.
Chancellor, Department of Education
Dave A. Chokshi, MD, MSc
Commissioner, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Building Ventilation Information
All school buildings have been surveyed for ventilation. The link below redirects you to the DOE site. Consulting engineers under the direction of the NYC School Construction Authority have surveyed the ventilation in every New York City public school. Repairs will be completed prior to Monday, September 21. Rooms will be closed if repairs have not been made.
Rooms are placed into two categories for the purpose of school opening:
· Operational: Operational spaces have at least one method of ventilation that is operational
· Rooms that need repairs: Rooms that Need Repair have no identified working ventilation system. If repairs are not made by September 21, the room not be used.
Understanding Our Report
The survey assesses whether various systems of ventilation are working properly. Results are shown in five areas:
· Windows: "Yes" indicates that the space has windows. "No" indicates that the space does not have windows.
· At Least One Window Can be Opened: "Yes" indicates that the room can be ventilated using a window.
· Supply Fan: A supply fan delivers air to a space. "Operational" means that the space has a working supply fan to provide ventilation. "Partly operational" or "not operational" identifies spaces supply fans that need repair. "Doesn't Exist" means there is no supply fan. "Cannot Access" means supply fan was not accessible at the time of the visit.
· Exhaust Fan: A fan that forces out stale indoor air so it can be replaced by fresh air. "Operational" means that the space has a working exhaust fan to provide ventilation. "Partly operational" or "not operational" identifies spaces with exhaust fans that need repair. "Doesn't Exist" means there is no exhaust fan. "Cannot Access" means exhaust fan was not accessible at the time of the visit.
· Unit Ventilator: A mechanical device that circulates conditioned air to desired spaces. "Operational" means that the space has a working unit. "Partly operational" or "not operational" identifies spaces with units that need repair. "Doesn't Exist" means there is no unit ventilator. "Cannot Access" means unit ventilator was not accessible at the time of the visit.