The State Will Provide Rapid Tests for Schools in hot spots for required testing. That happened this week, as part of the state's Cluster Action Initiative, the Governor announced that schools open to in-person instruction in "Yellow Zones" would be required to test a portion of their in-person students, staff, and teachers at least once a week.
The NYS Dept. of Health today is issuing guidance requiring 20% of students, teachers, and staff who are in-person in schools located within "Yellow Zones" to be tested once a week starting next Friday, October 16.
All results must be reported promptly to DOH and will be made available on the COVID Report Card dashboard. As needed, the State will provide rapid test kits free of charge to local governments, health departments, schools, or whichever local health providers are designated by the local government, to help localities and schools meet this requirement which is a key part of ensuring COVID-19 does not spread into schools within nearly geographic proximity to where the state is monitoring cluster outbreaks.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo also announced today that COVID-19 rapid result testing will be made available to every county in New York State. The New York State Department of Health will deploy an initial 400,000 rapid result test kits free of charge to local health departments, hospitals, pharmacies, and other health care providers to help increase access in all corners of New York State to free COVID-19 tests that can be done within 15 minutes and without having to send a specimen to a lab.
DOH will prioritize the distribution of testing kits to counties and local health care providers in areas seeing recent uptick in cases. The rapid tests can be used to control new outbreaks, conduct surveillance testing, and will also be made available on a as needed basis to help schools in 'yellow zones' test students and staff as part of new requirements to monitor COVID-19 spread as part of the Governor's Cluster Action Initiative.
"From day one, testing has been one of the most vital tools we have to accurately assess COVID-19's spread in New York. Today New York State is building on our nation-leading testing program to expand rapid testing to every corner of the state, to give health care providers and localities the tools they need offer free rapid testing to their residents and patients," Governor Cuomo said. "These rapid test kits will allow health care institutions throughout the state to quickly and accurately determine COVID-19's spread, control outbreaks and keep families and communities safe. Further, the state is taking precautionary steps to ensure localities are providing rapid testing for schools that are nearby communities that have seen recent upticks in cases and are offering in-person instruction. We will provide rapid test kits, as needed, free of charge to all localities to help them meet this new requirement, giving parents, teachers, and students confidence in the safety of their educational experiences."
DOH will issue a letter today to all local health departments, as well as hospitals, pharmacies, and other provider organizations, providing details for how to access and receive these rapid testing kits.
Just as New York City gears up for random monthly testing for the new coronavirus in schools, Gov. Andrew Cuomo added these new weekly random testing in schools near hot spots. The governor’s office didn’t immediately provide the numbers or names of schools expected to be involved statewide.
This week Mayor Bill de Blasio today sent a proposal to New York State government to close non-essential businesses, including public and private schools, in nine New York City zip codes where COVID-19 rates have remained over 3% for the past seven days. This plan, which will begin on Wednesday, October 7th, also includes closing down high-risk activities in 11 additional New York City zip codes of concern. "It's time for to us rewind, to take some of the steps we took before that worked," Mayor de Blasio said Monday. "It's a measure I think we have to take to contain the situation before it gets any worse"
Under an August deal with the city teachers union, the city plans to test a random group of 10% to 20% of staff and students at each school monthly. City officials asked the state to close schools in parts of southern Brooklyn and Queens after seeing jumps in the virus. Mr. Cuomo on Monday agreed to close about 300 public and private schools in hot-spot areas, and they closed Tuesday.
In the city’s plan, starting today, students in grades 1 through 12 who choose in-person classes will be tested at school with a short swab in the front of the nose, with a parent’s consent. With the city paying about $70 a test and 500,000 students expected to learn in person—or half of the nation’s largest district—the city will likely spend millions of dollars a month on its testing program.
Mr. de Blasio said at a press briefing Tuesday that schools’ protocols for face masks, social distancing, hand-washing and cleaning make them safe. At 35 schools in nine ZIP Codes experiencing surges in the virus, he said 1,351 people were tested from Sept. 25 through Monday Oct 5th, and only two tested positive. Despite such low numbers, still, he said he backed closing schools in hot spots.
Hours before new lockdown restrictions were set to go into effect - The city announced 61 additional schools will go fully remote for two weeks, on top of those already closed.
Starting yesterday, the Department of Education says a total of 169 school sites will be fully remote for at least the next two weeks. However, the boundaries for the COVID-19 hot spots are not so clear cut. Sunset Park in Brooklyn is split between two zones and it wasn’t until earlier in the evening that students at one school found out they won’t be allowed back to class.
New York City only just lifted its last major restriction on indoor dining last week, allowing eat-in to resume at 25 percent capacity, by state guidelines. The last two waves of public school students also only returned to classes for the first time last week. Some likely now won't get in-person learning at all this month.