NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City's public school buildings will remain open if there are positive COVID-19 cases and only those who are unvaccinated will have to quarantine if exposed to a positive case, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
De Blasio and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter announced the city's plans for the upcoming school year at the mayor's daily briefing Thursday.
"Here's the bottom line: we do not expect building closures. we will have some classroom quarantines, but we are also going to see a lot of people able to stay when others have to quarantine," de Blasio said. "This is crucial. Anyone who is vaccinated, who is not symptomatic, adult or child, even if there has been contact, they are going to stay in school. I don't want people thinking of last year's model and assuming everything is the same now. It's not the same because of vaccination."
Under the guidelines, testing will be reduced from last year's 20% of school populations weekly, to 10% twice a month.
Also new this year, elementary school quarantines will last 10 days for all students in a classroom with exposure.
While quarantining, elementary school students will get live remote learning.
Unvaccinated middle and high school students can test out of quarantine on the seventh day of a 10-day quarantine if they provide proof of a negative test.
Middle and high school students will have access to asynchronous remote learning.
Vaccinated people without symptoms won't have to quarantine after exposure but are encouraged to get tested three to five days later.
Schools will only close if disease detectives find "evidence of widespread in-school transmission."
Every classroom will have two air purifiers and extra-large purifiers and window exhaust fans will be utilized in high school cafeterias.
School cleaning protocols will continue this year.
"Masks will be required for all people inside and outside of DOE buildings, regardless of vaccination status," Porter said, reiterating a previously established protocol. "Schools will provide three feet of distancing whenever possible, this can be done in the vast majority of our classrooms."
The protocols are divided between elementary schools, whose students are not yet eligible for vaccination, and middle and high schools.
Due to the lack of vaccinations, all children in elementary schools will be subjected to testing, pending parental consent, while only unvaccinated middle and high schoolers will be tested.
Adults will not be tested as they must be vaccinated.
The teachers' union released the following statement:
"The city's plans for masking, ventilation, social distancing and testing protocols announced today will help keep students and staff safe this year. At the same time the mayor has finally acknowledged the need for virtual instruction for medically fragile children and for those in quarantine. We still are working out the details of this remote instruction," said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers.
The mayor touted the city's success in ramping up vaccinations among younger people, say New York City saw a 22% increase in the vaccination rate for 12 to 17-year-olds since July 4.
Two-thirds of New Yorkers 12 years old or older have been fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, hospitalization rates among children in New York City are about 80% lower than hospitalization rates for everyone else.
The city has seen a "very modest increase" in that percentage due to the delta variant, about 1.2 per 100,000 children hospitalized.
The school year begins Monday, September 13.
The full details on the new guidelines, can be found in a handbook distributed by the City.
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