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De Blasio: Details on quarantine policy for public schools coming next week

Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chancellor Richard Carranza and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dave Chokshi join school leadership at One World Middle School at Edenwald in the Bronx to welcome students back to school on Thursday, October 1, 2020 Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Public school staff, students, and parents should expect to learn about quarantining rules for the coming school year sometime next week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday.

De Blasio revealed he would begin to release long-awaited details on the city’s quarantining policy for unvaccinated adults and children in public schools during an interview on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show.”

“If you’re vaccinated and symptomatic you go and get tested and then follow through depending on the test results, if you’re unvaccinated you quarantine,” De Blasio said referring to public school students in school buildings or classrooms with a confirmed positive case of the virus. “We are going to lay all this out starting next week in very specific details.”  

Minutes before, de Blasio doubled down on his plan to not offer a remote option for students this fall stating despite increased cries for the Department of Education to offer it over worries about the Delta variant.

“I understand that parents are concerned about their kids’ safety first and foremost, that’s the number one thing you feel as a parent,” the mayor said. “We have given a lot of information but we have to do it better.”

De Blasio also reiterated that school communities will most likely see fewer students needing to quarantine than last school year given the high level of vaccination in the city. Roughly 56% of all New York City residents are fully vaccinated, according to city data. In addition, about 300,000 children 12 to 17 years of age have received at least one dose of the vaccine — about 56% of all vaccine-eligible kids across the five boroughs — and about 60% of all public school teachers have gotten at least one dose, although that number is most likely higher, according to de Blasio.

It is unclear how many of the city’s at least partially vaccinated children attend public schools. 

The long-awaited details will hopefully be released with less than a month before the start of the school year. On Thursday, Aug. 20, de Blasio said that all unvaccinated people exposed to a positive COVID case would need to quarantine for seven days instead of 10 days which had been the Department of Education’s policy last school year.

Testing will undoubtedly play an important role in the fall’s full school reopening and the city’s quarantining policy. Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter hinted during a virtual event with City & State magazine earlier this week that the city is looking to increase COVID-19 testing in low-vaccination neighborhoods.

“We’ve worked closely with the department of health and are confident that we will be able to provide the testing that we need and have the safety and health protocols in place, as we’ve done,” Porter said during the event. “We know there will be more people in school than last year and so we are thinking about low vaccine neighborhoods and how we ensure there is more testing in those places…every day we are having a different conversation and looking at the city differently.”

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