On July 7, 2021, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) issued an email providing an update for personal safety measures for New York State public summer school programs.
With regard to masks, the update indicates that due to current low rates of COVID-19 transmission, mask requirements can be modified to the less restrictive requirements applicable to child care, day and overnight camp settings. This guidance is set forth at: https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/Child_Care_Daycamps_Detailed_Guidelines.pdf
What that means is that face coverings are no longer required for fully vaccinated individuals during indoor and outdoor summer school activities and programs. Unvaccinated staff must wear masks at all times while indoors. Unvaccinated drivers, staff and students who are aged two or older (who are medically able to tolerate mask wearing) must wear masks while being transported. Students who are not able to tolerate face coverings should be kept six feet away from unvaccinated staff, who must be masked at all times indoors.
School districts may require mask wearing while indoors for all individuals, should the superintendent and board of education so choose. Masks wearing indoors is strongly encouraged when a vaccination status is unknown. Our office has opined that a school district may require mask wearing, with the option of lifting the requirement should proof of vaccination be presented.
Additionally, the new guidance from the NYSDOH provides summer schools the choice of following either the NYSDOH’s guidance regarding in-person instruction at Pre-K to Grade 12 Schools or the CDC’s guidance regarding same. Notably, the NYSDOH’s and the CDC’s guidance are consistent with each other, with the exception of the CDC guidance not requiring school districts to conduct daily health screenings of “students, faculty, staff, and, where applicable, contractors, vendors, and visitors to identify any individuals who may have COVID-19 or who may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus”. Instead, the CDC guidance requires school districts to educate teachers, staff and families about providing notice and staying home when they experience COVID-19 symptoms, are exposed to COVID-19, or test positive for COVID-19, and when they can return to school. Accordingly, school districts choosing to follow the CDC’s guidance will no longer be mandated to conduct daily health screenings of individuals before they are permitted to enter upon school property.
New York State’s updated guidance specifically states that there is no need for a meeting with stakeholders to change a district’s protocols to reflect the update. Additionally, and importantly, the DOH stressed that this update is specific only to the summer and that there will be future guidance issued relating to the regular school session (September to June) or the 2021-2022 school year issued.
Should you have any questions regarding this updated guidance concerning summer school, please contact William Kang, Suzanne Volpe, or any of the attorneys in Keane & Beane, P.C.’s Education Law department.