Building Capacity during COVID

Capacity

In order to provide the maximum number of students access to in-person instruction at each school while following health and safety plans, students will rotate in groups between in-person and remote learning (known as blended learning for the purposes of this document). Each school was provided a preliminary estimate of what their space allows when accounting for social distancing. These building capacity calculations allow for at least six feet of space to be maintained around each person in a classroom, while ensuring that there remains room for teachers and students to circulate. 

NYCDOE has developed three baseline programming options for schools to choose from. The models, having been created by analyzing system-wide constraints, researching national and international best practices, surveying families and students, and by holding focus groups with school leaders, are meant to support schools in determining how to serve the needs of their students and families in line with health and safety guidance. These models apply to Elementary (including early childhood grades), Middle, and High Schools. Two additional models are available for District 75 schools, a citywide school district with schools that provide highly specialized instructional support for students with significant challenges, such as Autism Spectrum Disorders, significant cognitive delays, emotional disturbances, sensory impairments, and multiple disabilities. Schools will be able to apply for an exception to implement an alternative model based on that school’s specific needs.

Families will be notified of their student’s specific schedule in August. More details on programming models can be found here: https://www.schools.nyc.gov/school-year-20-21/return-to-school-2020/schoolschedules(Open external link).

Learning Preference Opt-in Period

Families will be able to opt-in to blended learning for the 2020-2021 school year during one opt-in window from Monday, November 2 through Sunday, November 15. Families requesting to change from 100% remote to blended learning should complete and submit the Learning Preference survey(Open external link) during this window. Schools will be able to review individual students’ updated learning preference on a rolling basis during this window.

  • Students will not need a medical reason to register for this option. Families will have one opt-in window to transition to blended learning for their child.
  • During this time, Superintendents, Executive Superintendents and Central DOE will begin supporting schools to ensure as many students as possible are accommodated for blended learning.
  • Families can opt into 100% remote learning at any time.

Social Distancing

Safely reopening schools for in-person learning means significant changes to classroom capacity. In order to fully comply with the CDC and New York State’s physical distancing requirements that reduce the spread of COVID-19, schools will operate at significantly reduced capacity for in-person instruction, with, on average, between one third and half of the student population attending at one time.

Maximum capacity has been determined using a formula that calculates the space needed to maintain six feet of physical distance and comply with other COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Every school will be required to ensure that all individuals stay at least six feet apart at all times, including at building entry, during movement through hallway and stairwells, while in classrooms and shared spaces, and in elevators.

NYCDOE will continue to support schools in ensuring that conditions make physical distancing possible. Schools will receive signage, including but not limited to signs to remind individuals to remain six feet apart, signs to support appropriate movement protocols, and floor markers that show six feet in distance.

NYCDOE will support schools in redesigning movement protocols within a building to minimize congestion, including but not limited to designating one-way direction stairwells, single file routes, and requiring students to stay on campus during lunch periods. This includes larger shared spaces (e.g.: gyms, cafeterias, auditoriums, school-yards) and protocols on entrance and departure from the building.

PPE and Face Coverings

The mandatory use of face coverings while on NYCDOE property must be enforced for all individuals, including staff, students, and essential visitors, with the exceptions below. NYCDOE will communicate, educate, and reinforce the required wearing face coverings with families engaged as full partners in this process. Exceptions to face covering usage are as follows: 

    • Medically verified students who cannot tolerate a face covering, including where students for whom the use of such coverings would impair their physical or mental health; 
    • Where the use of face covering is inappropriate considering the development level or age of the student (e.g. under two years old);
    • Guidance and policies will account for any modifications to social distancing or PPE that may be necessary for certain student or staff populations, including individuals who have hearing impairment or loss, students receiving language services, and young students in early education programs, ensuring that any modifications minimize COVID-19 exposure risk for students, faculty, and staff, to the greatest extent possible. 

    With the exceptions discussed above, face coverings are required for all individuals while on school property. NYCDOE is procuring and distributing appropriate PPE, including face coverings, for students, staff and essential visitors to use when inside school buildings.

    Students, staff, and essential visitors are able to bring their own face coverings, but if they are not able to or forget, every school will have centrally provided face coverings readily available to be provided to anyone who requires a face covering.

    NYCDOE will communicate, educate, and reinforce personal protective behaviors, such as the required wearing of face coverings, with families engaged as full partners in this process. Signage will also be provided to remind students, faculty, and staff of the importance of wearing appropriate PPE, especially face coverings. 

    Hygiene, Cleaning, and Disinfection

    The Division of School Facilities has drafted a Cleaning Protocol that follows CDC guidance in addition to State DOH guidance. Routine cleaning is an important part of standard infection control practices. Please refer to the State DOH guidance(Open external link) for areas of focus.The State DOH guidance also outlines additional procedures to perform in the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a school. NYCDOE buildings will now perform these enhanced cleaning procedures everyday regardless of any confirmed case of COVID-19.

    Custodian engineers will continue to comply with instructions on building ventilation and opening of windows. Custodian engineers will continue to purchase EPA-registered anti-viral products as described in the State DOH guidelines. All products are to be used according to the label instructions. 

    Hand and Respiratory Hygiene

    NYCDOE plays a vital role creating a safe and positive environment for students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students and staff will need to thoroughly clean their hands as soon as possible upon entry to the school building. In addition, students will be expected to clean their hands repeatedly throughout the day, including but not limited to, between classes, before and after physical education, and before and after meals/snacks.

    NYCDOE believes that it is critical that students do everything possible to keep themselves safe from spreading COVID-19 and has created age-appropriate (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12) lessons to help students learn about hand and respiratory hygiene. In the elementary grades, students practice handwashing, explore feelings around face coverings, and design a unique mask. At the secondary level, students practice responding to scenarios related to face coverings and peer pressure, set goals around health-enhancing behaviors, and develop a PSA to encourage others to wear face coverings and keep a safe distance. These lessons can be taught in classroom settings, physical education class, health education class, advisory or other classes.

    When students can learn, practice, and demonstrate health-related skills, they are much more likely to adopt and maintain healthy behaviors. Comprehensive health education classes at the elementary, middle and high school levels provide students with additional opportunities to build on these skills as they relate to disease prevention and social, emotional, and mental health.

    To reinforce students’ learning from the aforementioned lessons, NYCDOE will provide printable posters to each school to remind students of these important hygiene protocols. NYCDOE will also provide additional printable posters for schools to use as is appropriate for individual spaces, including directional signs.

    Visitors

    Minimizing opportunities for spread is a necessary component for maintaining health and safety in NYCDOE schools. In an effort to limit the number of visitors in a school at any given time, as recommended by the CDC(Open external link), schools are encouraged, where possible, to address all visitor and parent concerns by phone or virtually. Principals and designated staff should conduct meetings remotely, where possible.

    When it is essential to hold an in-person meeting, all visitors are required to follow the visitor control protocols, including undergoing a temperature check, completing a health screening form, complying with physical distancing requirements and wearing a face covering.

    All visitors must receive a visitor’s pass, which must be returned upon exiting the building. All visitors must be escorted to and from the meeting destination, in order to prevent visitors from accessing unauthorized areas, limiting the possibility of exposure. If a parent is called to the school to pick up their child, the child must be brought to the main lobby to meet the parent.

    Non-essential individuals should not be allowed to enter school buildings. All packages are to be delivered to the main lobby in a manner consistent with physical distancing protocols, or to another location if proper physical distancing cannot be met with lobby deliveries.

    Co-located schools must be aligned on policies governing how adults are allowed to enter and traverse the building.

    Schools must develop practices to eliminate the need for families to enter school buildings to drop off or pick up children, except for 3-K and Pre-K families during the first month of school. 

    Screening 

    To ensure that staff and students do not report to school if they have or potentially may have COVID-19 or are feeling ill, a health screening, including a temperature check, must be completed by all students, staff, and visitors before entering NYCDOE school facilities. NYCDOE will provide oral thermometers to all students’ families so that temperatures can be checked at home. The health screening should be completed at home and must be completed each day.

    Students and school-based staff cannot report to school based on the results of the following four questions in the NYCDOE’s daily health screener:

    1. Have you experienced any symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever of 100.0 degrees F or greater, a new cough, new loss of taste or smell or shortness of breath within the past 10 days?

    • No. Go to the next question.
    • Yes, and I have received a negative result from a COVID-19 test since the onset of symptoms AND have not had symptoms for at least 24 hours. Go to the next question.
    • Yes, and I am not in the category above. No further screening is needed. The employee/guest may not enter the building.

    2. In the past 10 days, have you gotten a positive result from a COVID-19 test that tested saliva or used a nose or throat swab? (not a blood test)

    • No. Go to the next question.
    • Yes. No further screening is needed. The employee/guest may not enter the building.

    3. To the best of your knowledge, in the past 14 days, have you been in close contact (within 6 feet for at least 10 minutes) with anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 or who has or had symptoms of COVID-19?

    • No. Go to the next question.
    • Yes. No further screening is needed. The employee/guest may not enter the building.

    Have you traveled internationally or from a state with widespread community transmission of COVID-19 per the New York State Travel Advisory in the past 14 days?

    • No. The employee/guest may enter the building.
    • Yes. No further screening is needed. The employee/guest may not enter the building.

    School-based staff, students, and visitors can complete the health screening in the following ways:

    Online Health Screening Tool

    • NYCDOE families/students are encouraged to use the online health screening tool(Open external link) to pre-screen themselves before entering a NYCDOE building. The online health screening application can be found at https://healthscreening.schools.nyc(Open external link).
    • Upon entering the school facility, families/students will be asked to provide the results of their screening either by showing the email on their smartphone or a printout of the results. Families should support students as needed with this online screening questionnaire and should ensure students have proper documentation for morning entry.
    • For students who travel via school bus(Open external link), families must complete the screening, including checking their child’s temperature, prior to boarding a school bus to make certain that their child is well enough to ride on the bus and attend school. Bus personnel will not be conducting screenings of children prior to boarding the bus. School site designated staff will be checking for completion of student health screening at entry. Students who lack the screening clearance will need to be supported in completing this screening process at the school, particularly young children.
    • For morning student drop off, every effort should be made to ensure that student health screenings are completed prior to families dropping off their children to school, especially for our younger students.
    • NYCDOE employees are strongly encouraged to use the online tool to pre-screen themselves before entering a NYCDOE building. Upon entering the facility, staff will be asked to provide the results of the screening either by showing the email on their phones or a printout of the results.
    • The screening results for school-based staff are valid until midnight of the same day. School-based staff must show clearance every time they reenter a NYCDOE building.

    Paper Copy of Health Screening Questionnaire

    • If students are not able to pre-screen using the online tool, schools must provide families with several copies of the health screening questionnaire so families can complete the questionnaire at home. If staff are not able to pre-screen using the online tool, staff should print and complete the health screening questionnaire for completion on a daily basis at home.
    • A printable version of the health screening questionnaire can be found at https://healthscreening.schools.nyc/docs/DOE_Health_Screening_Questionnaire_090420.pdf(Open external link)

    In-Person Health Screening at School

    • Any person who needs to complete the health screening in-person will undergo a temperature check.
    • If NYCDOE families are unable to pre-screen their child(ren) at home using either the online tool or paper questionnaire, families will need to complete their child’s screening in-person at the school building prior to their child’s entry.
    • Schools should determine the best way to implement on-site screening for students using either the online health screening tool or paper copies of the screening questionnaire. Young children may require additional support from a staff member.
    • If NYCDOE employees are not able to pre-screen themselves prior to coming to work, they will be required to complete an in-person screening assessment prior to entering the building.
    • The screening results for school-based staff are valid until midnight of the same day.
    • School-based staff must show clearance every time they reenter a NYCDOE building.
    • The paper version of the health screening form can be found at https://healthscreening.schools.nyc/docs/DOE_Health_Screening_Questionnaire_090420.pdf(Open external link).

    Temperature Checks

    Anyone needing to complete a health screening in-person at a school must undergo a temperature check. As an added precaution in addition to at-home daily health screenings, schools will be instituting random temperature checks upon entry using hand-held non-touch thermometers(Open external link) and wall-mounted thermometers(Open external link).

    Designated school staff, with the assistance of School Safety Agents, will be checking the temperatures of any students, staff, and visitors entering in the building who need to complete an in-person health screening, as well as checking temperatures at random.

    • Face coverings and gloves must be worn by designated staff taking temperatures.
    • Any student presenting with a temperature of 100.0 degrees F OR HIGHER from a temperature check must be assessed by the nurse or health professional in the Isolation Room. The student must stay in the building’s Isolation Room until picked up and the principal should call the Situation Room at 212-393-2780.
    • School-based staff members with a temperature of 100.0 degrees F or higher will be directed to leave the building. The school should advise the staff member to visit a doctor and get tested for COVID-19. The principal should call the Situation Room 212-393-2780.
    • NYCDOE-contracted Community Based Organizations providing early childhood services must continue to conduct daily health checks and align with NYCDOE and DOHMH issued guidance that pertains to their program and setting.

    In order to support with temperature screenings both at home and at school, the NYCDOE has provided all schools with the following:

    • Oral thermometers for all students: Oral thermometers should be backpacked home along with this flyer(Open external link) on the first day each student attends school in-person. These thermometers will support families in taking their students’ temperature and completing the health screening form prior to arriving at school.
    • Hand-held non-touch thermometers(Open external link) and batteries: These thermometers should be used for individuals who need to complete an onsite health screening as well as for random temperature checks as students and staff enter the building. Non-touch hand-held thermometers are most accurate when used within two inches of a person’s forehead and can be acceptably used within three inches.
    • Wall-mounted thermometers(Open external link): These thermometers should be used for random temperature checks as students and staff enter the building. These thermometers should be installed using double-sided tape and should be installed by main entrance(s) of the building. 

    For younger students who arrive at school without a completed questionnaire and are unable to respond to the health screening questions, the school should make an effort to contact a family member for support with screening. However, if a parent/guardian is unable to be contacted, the school should check the student’s temperature to ensure that it is below 100.0 degrees F and ask the student about their well-being (e.g., “How are you feeling today?”).

    For District 75 students who arrive at school without a completed questionnaire, the school should make an effort to contact a family member for support with screening. If it is not feasible to contact the student's family member prior to the student's entry, the school should check the student’s temperature to ensure that it is below 100.0 degrees F and ask the student about their well-being (e.g., “How are you feeling today?”). In District 75 schools, temperature check alone prior to entry is acceptable if a student is not developmentally able to answer questions regarding their well-being. In the event that contact with the family was not possible prior to the student's entry, once the student is in class the school should conduct outreach to the family to complete the screener as well as remind the family that the screening must be conducted at home before student leaves for school.

    Testing

    New York City will make COVID-19 testing readily available for all its residents, including children, at over 200 locations across all five boroughs. NYCDOE encourages all its students and school-based staff to get tested within seven days of reporting to buildings and at regular intervals throughout the remainder of this crisis. In order to support testing, New York City will prioritize testing for NYCDOE students and staff and rapid communication of test results at any of its 34 city-run testing locations.

    Once in-person learning has commenced, the NYC DOE will implement the Random Sample Survey of COVID-19 in Schools, a robust program of repeated random sampling and COVID-19 testing of adults and students present in DOE schools. 

    • Obtain written parental /guardian consent for students to be tested in school from every possible student/parent at the beginning of the school year and continuously throughout the school year, including consent to have results shared with NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Test & Trace Corps, and Department of Education as necessary. Parents will be informed that, as testing is performed throughout the year, if parental/guardian refuses to provide consent for a student who has been selected randomly for testing, the student will be moved to the remote learning cohort.
    • Obtain consent from teachers and staff to have results shared with NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Test & Trace Corps, and Department of Education as necessary.
    • Establish mandatory time every month at each school dedicated to conducting the Random Sample Survey of COVID-19 in Schools beginning October 1. The percentage of individuals to be tested will be determined by the number of students enrolled in the school who have opted into blended learning in order to create a statistically significant sample size
      • 20% of the individuals in schools with fewer than 500 students
      • 15% of the individuals in schools with 500 to 999 students
      • 10% of the individuals in schools with 1000+ students
        • Test and Trace Corps and DOHMH will utilize a sampling technique based on standard protocols, working with outside experts.
        • All UFT titles will be required to participate in the Random Sample Survey of COVID-19 in Schools program. In the unlikely event a UFT member is selected for random testing and refuses, they will go on unpaid leave.
        • Other school staff will also be asked and are expected to participate in the Random Sample Survey of COVID-19 in Schools program.
    • Specimen collection will be conducted or supervised by appropriate personnel from City agencies, outside organizations, and/or outside contractor nurse support.
      • Each school’s need for testing support will be evaluated based on the number of students and teachers that must be tested
      • Self-collection kits for COVID-19 PCR testing will be an option, but other testing methods will be evaluated and considered for potential use as they become available.
      • Test and Trace Corps and DOHMH will provide kits to each school each month to collect specimens and will work with DOE to collect specimens on site in each school each month (or, in certain circumstances, at an appropriately designated off-school site or at home as necessary).
    • Students and staff are required to report any positive test result, either taken independently or through this random COVID-19 testing program, to the DOE
    • There will be a weekly meeting of all stakeholders to review the implementation of the Random Sample Survey of COVID-19 in Schools program and resolve any issues that arise in the process.

    Early Warning Signs

    The health and safety of students and staff are of the utmost priority when considering reopening schools. In order for school buildings to reopen and stay open, the percentage of positive tests in New York City must be less than 3% using a 7-day rolling average. School buildings will need to close and revert to fully remote learning for all students if the percentage of positive tests in New York City is equal to or more than 3% using a 7-day rolling average. It is important to note that the above threshold is just one trigger for closing school buildings, but may not be the only trigger. For example, a decision to close all of the school buildings in the City would be made if there were recurrent, uncontrolled outbreaks of COVID-19 in schools, even if the overall case rates across New York City were to remain low. Likewise, a decision to close individual schools would be made where there were multiple cases of COVID-19 identified (see “School Closures”).

    If any zip code within NYC reports a percentage of positive tests of 3% or higher using a 7-day rolling average, the city will deploy additional testing efforts within the community, including, but not limited to, increased testing of individuals in schools, opening new testing sites, door-to-door canvassing and targeted robocalls. The closure of school buildings within these communities, if necessary, will continue to be governed by the “School Closures” policy set forth herein. 

    Symptomatic Student at School 

    Families and staff must know and be reassured that schools will take every precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within school communities. One of the key actions in preventing the spread of COVID-19 is isolating when sick. School-based staff members will be trained prior to the arrival of students to serve as critical partners in alerting the school administration if a student develops COVID-19-like symptoms during the school day.

    In order to accommodate a student who may exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, every building must designate space to be used as an Isolation Room. An Isolation Room is a place where a student with suspected COVID-19 symptoms can be safely isolated in the building until they are examined and can be picked up by a guardian. A building’s Isolation Room must be large enough to house multiple students while maintaining physical distancing requirements of six feet. Each building must also designate a second space as a Back-Up Isolation Room, which can be used for other purposes until needed. Multiple students are permitted in the Isolation Room as long as they maintain physical distancing requirements of six feet and are wearing face coverings.

    Should a student present with symptoms of COVID-19, the classroom teacher or school aide will notify the Main Office/Principal/BRT leader that a student is not well and experiencing one or more COVID-like symptoms. The Building Response Team will be activated, and the student showing symptoms of COVID-19 will be escorted to the Isolation Room by a designated BRT member (Special Needs Coordinator or Incident Assessor) wearing appropriate PPE. BRT Emergency Officer calls the student’s guardian for pick up.

    When the ill student is placed in the Isolation Room, the building nurse will be contacted and will come to the Isolation Room and assess the student. Should the nurse/health professional be unavailable at that moment to examine the student, the student must wait in the building’s Isolation Room until assessment is complete. The student cannot be released to the guardian until the health assessment is completed.

    Upon arrival of the student’s guardian, the BRT Emergency Officer escorts the student to the visitors’ entrance for pick-up by the guardian, reviews the NYCDOE’s “Sent Home With Symptoms” letter with the guardian, and advises the student to visit a doctor and get tested for COVID-19, and provides the information of the closest testing site(Open external link). The BRT Emergency Officer confirms with the Command Post staff that the student and guardian have exited the building and all guidance has been provided.

    When the ill student has been picked up and the Isolation Room is empty, the Isolation Room must be closed momentarily for a rapid deep cleaning, so the room may be opened again quickly. A deep cleaning of the Isolation Room must be performed at the end of the day. he area/classroom where the student was showing symptoms must be cleaned as soon possible. A deep cleaning of the area/classroom must be performed at the end of the day. 

    The principal, BRT Leader and/or Recorder will ensure that the incident involving the ill student is reported to the Situation Room by calling 212-393-2780, reported to the Emergency Information Center (EIC) by calling 718-935-3210, and documented in OORS. 

    The Situation Room will provide the principal with a letter to be disseminated to the school community regarding a student exhibiting COVID-like symptoms during the school day. The school may use any communication platform available to disseminate the letter.

    The principal asks school designee (Parent Coordinator or nurse) to follow up with family on the ill student’s condition on regular intervals. The principal and/or designee shares any test results or updates with the Situation Room, in EIC, and in the OORS report.

    Symptomatic Staff Member at School

    Should a staff member present with symptoms of COVID-19, the ill staff member should immediately notify the principal that they are not feeling well and are experiencing COVID-like symptoms. The principal will alert the BRT for awareness and potential support, including temporary coverage of a class, and nurse, if necessary. Any staff member with special health concerns are managed by the BRT Special Needs Coordinator. The school will advise the staff member to get tested as soon as possible, and the staff member should then go home.

    If the staff member does not immediately leave the building and needs to wait for transportation assistance, the staff member may report to the Isolation Room. The area/classroom where the staff member was showing symptoms must be cleaned as soon possible. A deep cleaning of the area/classroom must be performed at the end of the day.

    The principal, BRT Leader and/or Recorder will ensure that the incident involving the ill staff member is reported to the Situation Room by calling 212-393-2780, reported to the Emergency Information Center (EIC) by calling 718-935-3210, and documented in OORS.

    The Situation Room will provide the principal with a letter to be disseminated to the school community regarding a staff member having exhibited COVID-like symptoms during the school day. The school may use any communication platform available to disseminate the letter.

    The principal and/or designee will follow up with the ill staff member and share any test results or updates with the Situation Room, in EIC, and In the OORS report.

    Returning to School After Showing Symptoms 

    Any individual (student or staff member) showing signs of COVID-19 can only return to school when all the following conditions are met:

    • Received a positive COVID-19 test AND
    • Isolated for 10 days AND
    • The individual has been fever free for 24 hours without the use of medication and overall symptoms are improving.

      OR

    • Received a negative COVID-19 test AND
    • The individual has been fever free for 24 hours without the use of medication and overall symptoms are improving.

      OR

    • Never got a COVID-19 test AND
    • At least 10 days since symptoms started AND
    • The individual has been fever free for 24 hours without the use of medication and overall symptoms are improving.

    If DOHMH or T2 determine the individual is considered a close contact of a positive case, the individual can only return to school when the following are met:

    • The individual has completed a 14-day quarantine regardless of COVID-19 test results since their last exposure to that case.

    Students in quarantine should participate in remote learning as possible. Staff in quarantine should discuss with their principals whether they are able to work remotely and may be eligible for excused leave if they are unable to work remotely.

    COVID Response Situation Room

    NYCDOE, NYC Test + Trace, DOHMH, and NYC Department of Buildings have collaborated to create the COVID Response Situation Room. This multi-agency partnership has been developed to support a swift, organized response to COVID-19 cases among students and staff in schools during the 2020-21 school year. The Situation Room will facilitate a multi-agency response to any COVID-19 related incidents at all NYCDOE schools, ensuring that the appropriate interventions take place while effectively and quickly communicating updates to school communities. The Situation Room is a “one-stop shop” for handling COVID-19 cases in schools. It is designed to support principals by providing all essential assistance needed for a potential or confirmed COVID-19 case, including verifying cases, providing communications to be shared with school communities, initiating any investigation or contact tracing as needed, and advising schools on next steps.

    Positive Cases and Contact Tracing

    Any student or staff member who self-reports a COVID-19 case while at school will be asked to leave the school, or in the case of a student, a guardian will be called to pick up the student. If a self-reported COVID-19 case occurs after school hours, the principal should call the Situation Room at 212-393-2780 and await next steps (see below for self-reported tests with and without documentation.)

    Self-Reported Positive Test With Documentation

    The principal calls the Situation Room at 212-393-2780 and reports the self-reported case. The principal submits the lab report, by email to the Situation Room at rts@buildings.nyc.gov and awaits next steps. The Situation Room staff will work to confirm the positive test; some case confirmations are able to happen immediately while others may take up to three hours to verify. For self-reported positive tests from non-NYC residents, the turnaround time will be longer.

    Self-Reported Positive Test Without Documentation

    Principal calls the Situation Room at 212-393-2780 and the Situation Room will advise on next steps. Principal will notify the Situation Room upon receipt of any testing documentation. 

    One Confirmed Case in a School

    In the event of a confirmed case:

    • The Situation Room will let the principal know of a confirmed case and to activate the COVID-19 protocols.
    • The principal notifies BRT, Situation Room, superintendent, and any affected teacher(s).
    • Principal and Situation Room liaison will confirm classroom closures, communications, and timing.
    • Principal/designee will call the confirmed case in to the EIC.
    • The BRT Leader notifies Borough Safety Director.
    • The principal will receive letters from the Situation Room and will communicate to all families and students at school about the confirmed case:
    • Families of students who are considered close contacts of the confirmed case must receive a letter stating that their child has been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual; this letter gives clear direction to quarantine for 14 days;
    • Families of students who are not considered close contacts must receive a letter stating that there was a confirmed case of COVID-19 at the school but that their child is not considered a close contact and therefore there is no need to quarantine.
    • Only affected classrooms will close during investigation and remain closed for 14 days.
    • The Situation Room liaison will follow up with the principal should additional action be needed.

    Two Confirmed Cases in a School

    Two confirmed cases within seven days in the same classroom triggers a classroom quarantine but the school remains open. Two confirmed cases within seven days in different classrooms triggers classroom quarantines and the entire building is closed for a minimum of 24 hours while T2 and DOHMH investigate.

    If Two Cases Are Confirmed During the School Day

    If two cases within seven days are confirmed by DOHMH during the school day, the Situation Room will contact the principal. The principal must isolate the affected classroom(s) until dismissal; students cannot be sent home early. The Situation Room and principal will notify families and staff that the classroom or school will be closed the following day.

    If Two Cases Are Confirmed After School Hours

    If two cases within seven days are confirmed by DOHMH during evening hours, the Situation Room and principal will notify families and staff that the classroom or school will be closed the following day.

    If two cases within seven days are confirmed by DOHMH during early morning hours, the Situation Room and principal will notify families and staff that the classroom or school will be closed that day.

    Investigation of Two Confirmed Cases

    • T2 and DOHMH must determine by 6:00 pm on any day that a building is closed whether the school(s) can reopen the next day; the Situation Room will inform the principal.
    • Once T2 and DOHMH investigation is complete:
    • T2 and DOHMH will make a recommendation to NYC Department of Buildings and Central NYCDOE on the closure of classroom(s) or school, as well as the length of closure.
    •  See “T2 and DOHMH Investigation Conclusions” table below.
    • Central NYCDOE/Situation Room informs the principal and superintendent, and communicates the closure decision to the school community.
    • The closed classroom(s) or schools transitions to remote learning for the duration of the closure.
    • Students on split schedules return for in-person learning on the next assigned day following reopening.

    School Closures

    There are various scenarios in which a school with two or more confirmed positive COVID-19 cases may need to close. In collaboration with the health experts at DOHMH, there are five possible conclusions that may lead to partial or full closure during an investigation and after an investigation. While intermittent school closures may be disruptive to the school community, the CDC acknowledges (Open external link)that these types of closures are an essential part of limiting exposure to COVID-19. All schools in New York City will need to close if the percentage of positive tests are equal to or more than 3% using a 7-day rolling average.

    Conclusion of Investigation During Investigation
    (for at 24 hours) 
    After Investigation
     
    One confirmed case Close classroom,
    transition to
    remote learning
    Classroom remains closed for 14 days; students and staff in close contact with positive case quarantine for 14 days
    At least two cases linked together in school, same classroom Close classroom,
    transition to
    remote learning
    Classroom remains closed for 14 days; students and staff in close contact with positive case quarantine for 14 days
    At least two cases linked together in school, different classrooms Close school building,
    transition to
    remote learning
    School opens after investigation; classrooms of each case remain closed and quarantined for 14 days

    Additional school members are quarantined based on where the exposure was in the school (e.g., the locker room)
    At least two cases linked together by circumstances outside of school

    (e.g., acquired infection by a setting and/or source outside of the school)
    Close school building,
    transition to
    remote learning
    School opens after investigation; classrooms remain closed for 14 days
    At least two cases, not linked, exposure occurred for each outside of school setting Close school building,
    transition to
    remote learning
    School opens after investigation; classrooms remain closed for 14 days
    Link unable to be determined Close school building,
    transition to
    remote learning
    Close school for 14 days