Cuomo announces guidelines for schools to reopen in COVID hotspot red, orange zones

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NEW YORK (WABC) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an agreement on a testing protocol that will allow schools in red and orange micro-cluster zones to reopen that includes mass testing before school reopens and weekly surveillance testing.

Cuomo says schools in red and orange zones can reopen to in-person learning once they agree to test all students and faculty.

If anyone tests positive, they cannot enter the school. If a child tests positive, then the state will contact trace back to the family.

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In order for a school to reopen, the school must:

-Remain closed for at least 4 calendar days after the zone designation is announced (48 hours to ensure lack of infectious contact in the school, and additional time for testing), and may re-open as early as the 5th calendar day.
-Ensure that no person may attend in-person on the campus without first receiving a negative test result, this applies to faculty/staff as well as students.

Schools that cannot meet the reopening requirements must remain in remote learning for the duration of the zone designation.

"In the micro-cluster zones, we've been working with schools in the red and the orange zones. The schools, private schools, Catholic schools, yeshivas, want to be open in the red and orange zones, and we've been working with them to try to find ways to keep people safe but allow children to go to school," Cuomo said. "We have agreed with them on a protocol that keeps people safe and allows children to be educated."

After a school reopens in a red or orange zone, vigilant symptom and exposure screening must be conducted each day and 25% of the in-person learning community, including students and staff, must be tested every week

The state will provide free rapid-result test kits for schools wishing to participate.

The Brooklyn Diocese released the following statement:

"Governor Cuomo's announcement this afternoon provides the framework for a safe return to in-person learning in six of our Catholic schools and academies. The Diocese of Brooklyn and the Superintendent of Schools have already begun making the necessary arrangements to offer testing to our students, faculty, and staff to meet these benchmarks and get our school buildings open as quickly as possible."

The NYC Department of Education said it will review the state's proposal and Mayor Bill de Blasio will discuss details on Monday.

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