New York City Public Schools to Increase COVID Testing, Relax Quarantine Rules – CBS New York
NEW YORK (CBSNew York) – New York City is stepping up COVID-19 testing in schools and relaxing quarantine rules.
It comes after a school had to close for a week due to a cluster of cases among staff.
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Students at 79 Public School in East Harlem were asked to stay home this week after 19 cases were confirmed and 45 others were forced into quarantine. The Department of Education said all of the cases involved staff members and were linked to an orientation event that took place before classes started, CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported.
Classes at PS 79 will be virtual until September 28. The DOE has ensured that each student has a device and will receive take-out meals.
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The city announced Monday that it is improving its health and safety measures.
“We will be testing in primary, middle and high schools. Every school, every week, ”Mayor Bill de Blasio said in his briefing on Monday.
“You can only test students who return their consent forms. He must abandon his bogus testing program and demand testing in schools, ”said City Councilor Mark Treyger, who chairs the education committee.
Since the first day of school last week, nearly 600 students in the city have tested positive for COVID, along with 384 teachers, CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported.
“There seem to be a lot of holes in all the policies that come out, even with revisions,” said Aixa Rodriguez, a teacher at Manhattan college.
Treyger said that on top of all this, medically exempt students in in-person classes are being left behind.
“I am told that the volume of applications has grown exponentially across the city for these home schooling applications for children, but many of these children have yet to receive an education day,” said Treyger.
The DOE told CBS2, in part, that it “has worked with schools individually to ensure they follow CDC guidelines while providing full-time education.”
Bauman asked the DOE how many students were expecting homeschooling, but did not immediately get a response.
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As for COVID protocols in schools, they are a bit of a mystery to parents like Eric McLendon.
“They look okay, but it’s also a bit difficult because we’re not allowed in schools to see what’s going on firsthand,” McLendon said.
It’s hard to blame him. Photos on social media show crowded urban schools, despite the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendation for students to have 3 feet of social distancing when possible.
“We’re not even able to keep them separate,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said the classrooms are too small to expand.
“The reality is that our classrooms are full of furniture. Even with everything we’ve thrown in and put away, we still don’t have any space, ”Rodriguez said.
It was therefore surprising to many that de Blasio announced on Monday that he would relax quarantine protocols, starting next week.
“When there is a positive test in a classroom, unvaccinated students in that class will not have to self-quarantine if they are masked and 3 feet apart,” he said. “This will allow more children to stay safely in the classroom.”
Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Teachers’ Federation, said there was no way to guarantee it.
“We didn’t have a chance to say that all of the children’s masks were in place, they were properly in place, snug and everyone was 3 feet apart all day. It’s a fantasy if the mayor believes this is happening, ”Mulgrew said.
While some parents agreed that children should spend as much time as possible in school, others who were already feeling nervous are asking for a virtual option.
“No one really wants their child to be surrounded by people with COVID-19. It’s dangerous, ”said Javier Maldonado.
NO MORE NEWS: Public School 79 in East Harlem to remain closed due to COVID-19 cluster; Distance learning in place until September 28
Ali Bauman of CBS2 contributed to this report.