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New York State Updates COVID-19 Guidance for 2022-23 School Year

On August 22, 2022, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and New York State Education Department (NYSED) updated COVID-19 guidance for school districts to provide more flexibility.  Westmo logo

For the 2022-23 school year, the NYSDOH and NYSED are encouraging school districts and schools to utilize the CDC’s Operational Guidance for K-12 Schools and Early Care and Education Programs to Support Safe In-Person Learning as a resource for COVID-19 mitigation strategies in the K-12 setting. This guidance from the CDC represents the most up-to-date COVID-19 mitigation strategies for the K-12 setting while considering COVID-19 Community Levels. Changes include:

•    Elimination of the test-to-stay policy recommendation.
•    Changed recommendations to conduct screening testing to focus on high-risk activities during high COVID-19 Community Levels or in response to an outbreak.
•    Removal of the recommendation to pod/cohort.
•    Removal of the recommendation to quarantine, except in high-risk congregate settings.
•    Addition of detailed information on when to wear a mask, how to manage cases and exposures and how to respond to outbreaks.

The Westmoreland Central School District is adopting all of the CDC’s, NYDOH’s and NYSED’s recommendations/protocols for the 2022-23 school year.

More guidance/details, per the CDC, NYSDOH and NYSED:

COVID-19 Exposure

When people are exposed to COVID-19, follow the CDC’s Exposure Guidance. It is recommended that those exposed to COVID-19 wear a well-fitting mask or respirator for a full 10-day period and get tested at least 5 days after close contact or sooner if symptoms develop. The current guidance holds for all individuals irrespective of vaccination status or history of prior COVID-19 infection.

COVID-19 Symptoms and Positive Test Results

Those who are or become symptomatic and/or test positive for COVID-19 are asked to follow the CDC’s Isolation Guidance.

The CDC notes that testing is not required to determine end of isolation following a positive test for COVID-19 infection; however, individuals may use sequential antigen testing, if available, as outlined in CDC’s Isolation Guidance to potentially shorten the duration of mask use post-isolation. Those who are not able to wear a well-fitting mask or respirator should either isolate for a full 10 days or follow the test-based strategy to determine when they can return to school without a mask.

Vaccinations

Staying up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations continues to be a leading public health strategy to prevent severe illness. Everyone 6 months of age and older is now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. All school children who are 5 years of age and older are eligible for a COVID-19 booster. This includes individuals who have been fully vaccinated and have not received an additional vaccination this calendar year. Information on COVID-19 vaccination can be found at https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/.

Testing

In addition to vaccination, as a best practice, COVID-19 testing provides an opportunity to connect eligible individuals who test positive with treatment. This allows schools to mitigate community spread of COVID-19.

Following this guidance will help schools collaborate with local departments of health to support safe in-person learning while providing greater flexibility to meet local community needs as COVID-19 Community Levels change.