NEW YORK (WABC) -- Schools in New York State will ease COVID-19 restrictions this fall, emphasizing keeping students in school by ending "test to stay" and full class quarantining, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Monday.
"The big news is no more quarantining, no more test to stay, and the days of sending an entire classroom home because one person was symptomatic and tested positive, those days are over," she said. "We've been through that experiment...Children are safe in classrooms, and when they are not in classrooms and traditional learning stops, it can be devastating for the wellbeing of those children."
The state health department will be sending school districts updated guidelines, including:
--If a student or teacher is exposed or has a close contact and doesn't have symptoms, they no longer have to go home. They can stay in school, though the CDC recommends wearing a mask for 10 days if someone has been exposed.
--No more "test to stay." If a classmate tests positive for COVID, and your child doesn't have symptoms, your child can stay in school as long as they wear a mask under the circumstances.
--If a child does get sick and stays home for five days, and then has no symptoms after five days, they should go back to school.
"We are no longer recommending the screening testing, which is randomly testing people who have no symptoms," Hochul said. "That was a year ago."
However, in certain circumstances, schools may want to opt for doing screening testing in high-risk activities.
"A choir where children are close together, wrestling teams," Hochul said. "We'll leave that up to individual schools to make that determination, but it is no longer recommended by CDC or Department of Health that there be this random screening."
School districts will still get coronavirus test kits -- one kit per student to start -- and schools can request more. About 14 million tests are expected to be distributed to the more than 600 school district in the state.
"We had a lot of rules last year," Hochul said. "This year, we have a different scenario, landscape, so to speak. We are expected to be a much more easier year for parents and schools."
Despite the loosening of restrictions, Hochul stressed that the "trend that we cannot lose sight of" is cases increasing in the fall and winter.
"This is our vulnerable time," she said. "Will that happen again? We don't know. But our policy has always been, for the last year straight, is to prepare for the worst. That is why we are going to continue looking at those patterns and make sure that, while these numbers tend to spike in the fall, weather gets colder, people congregate more...We are going to remain vigilant, remain prepared. Maybe we won't need a winter plan. Maybe we will continue to be in a far better place."
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