We are here to offer support during these times and share helpful resources on COVID-19. We will continually update this page with important information that may be of use to you, your family, and unit.
Please click on each page link below for information and resources.
Current NYS PTA Positions
- Focus must be on a full reopen of ALL school buildings for ALL children.
- All parents and families should have the option to send their children to a school building full-time, 5 days a week.
- We support a parent’s choice in whether or not their child will wear a mask in a school building, when it is safe to do so.
- Schools should maximize distancing in all classroom spaces, and use all available other space as classroom space, to see if they can reach distances which would allow children to remove masks when seated in a classroom setting.
- We strongly encourage discussions of multiple mask breaks when children must be in masks due to state guidance, lack of distancing or in other settings where masks must be worn for safety.
- As per CDC and DOH, there should be no usage of masks outdoors.
- Other health and safety protections should continue for staff and students, according to relevant and timely data of reproduction rates, positivity rates, community spread, vaccination rates of staff and students, and other health and safety factors.
- Remote learning may have to continue to be an option for limited students, like those with severe co-morbidity issues or those in extremely unique circumstances.
- Academic intervention services must be a priority with meaningful and early assessments for learning loss.
- As a part of a reopening strategy, pool testing could be one tool to support health and safety for staff and students.
- Testing should continue as an option for students, with parental approval only
- We do NOT support mandatory testing of students. As reminder, the vaccine is approved for use for 12+ only with an emergency authorization. We would oppose any COVID-19 mandate for children and students.
- However, we urge parents and families to have the vaccine conversation with their child’s pediatrician.
- We do not object to policies which would require adults in school buildings to either be vaccinated or tested on a semi-regular basis.
NEW/REVISED Information and State Guidance
NEW Governor Hochul and DOH Reopening Guidance, September 2, 2021
GOVERNOR HOCHUL ANNOUNCES NEW REQUIREMENTS AND GUIDANCE FOR THE SAFE REOPENING OF NEW YORK SCHOOLS
Requirement for COVID-19 Testing for Teachers and other School Employees—with Opt-Out for Vaccinated—Passes Public Health and Health Planning Council; Read the Regulation Here and the DOH Determination Letter Here
Department of Health Releases New Guidance for K-12 School Reopening; Read Guidance Here
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that her strategy to reopen schools safely took a major leap forward on two fronts, demonstrating her administration’s commitment to making the health and well-being of students, teachers, and families a top priority. Earlier today, the Public Health and Health Planning Council passed an emergency regulation and the Health Commissioner issued a determination requiring all teachers, administrators and other school employees to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing unless they show proof of vaccination, with either a CDC vaccine card or the Excelsior Pass.
The Governor also announced that the New York State Department of Health has finalized and released official guidance for classroom instruction. These new actions follow the Governor’s announcement last week of a mask requirement for everyone in school buildings during instructional hours and extracurricular activities. The guidance prioritizes in-person learning and details recommendations and requirements for vaccinations, face masks, physical distancing, and testing to monitor potential transmission, among other areas. The guidance largely tracks with the CDC guidance which districts were advised to follow. It is also intended as a floor and schools have the flexibility to go beyond the guidance.
“My top priority is to get children back to school and protect the environment so they can learn, and everyone is safe,” Governor Hochul said. “On day one of my administration, I announced a series of bold back-to-school initiatives, including a universal mask requirement for anyone entering our schools. We are now issuing guidance to make sure our school staff are vaccinated or tested regularly for themselves and their families, our students, and our communities. Our children deserve to be safe and protected in schools, and I am doing everything in my power to guarantee that.”
The emergency regulation, which authorizes the Commissioner to require weekly testing or proof of vaccine, will apply to all schools in New York State until it is no longer necessary as described in the language of the regulation.
During a recent Zoom meeting, school officials, union leaders, and other education advocates asked for State public health professionals to provide additional clarity and guidance on school re-opening. Per the new guidance, schools should implement physical distancing to the extent possible within their structures but should not exclude students from in-person learning to meet a minimum distance requirement. Further, adistance of at least 3 feet is strongly recommended between all students and a distance of at least 6 feet is recommended between students and teachers/staff, and between teachers/staff who are not fully vaccinated. Students and drivers must wear masks on school buses, including on buses operated by public and private school systems, regardless of vaccination status, subject to applicable exclusions and exemptions.
State Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said, “We need to get all of our children back in schools and in a safe environment which promotes healthy learning. While we continue to work with local school districts and local health departments, we listened to feedback from parents, teachers and education advocates who asked for additional statewide guidance on masks, vaccines, social distancing and testing and for recommendations on challenges like school bus safety and navigating high-risk sports and extracurricular activities.”
The Commissioner’s determination for masking in schools, issued August 27th, applies to all indoor settings, including indoor sports and extracurricular activities. For indoor sports and extracurricular activities in which masking is not possible, such as swimming, a minimum distance of 6 feet must be maintained. Schools are encouraged to implement required screening testing for participants who are not fully vaccinated.
Schools must have capacity and offer screening testing for any teachers and staff at least once a week. Schools must also have the capacity to provide diagnostic testing for any student, teacher, or staff member who is symptomatic or has been exposed to someone infected with COVID-19. There are a variety of options and significant funding to achieve this testing and schools should continue to work closely with their local Department of Health.
In addition to implementing the test-vaccine requirement, DOH recommends that all public school districts and non-public schools should support opportunities for students and staff to access COVID-19 vaccination clinics in collaboration with local health partners. The guidance continues the daily reporting requirement for school districts to ensure they are providing data to the NYS School COVID Report Card, another tool to share COVID-19 information with families and communities. For more information, please see the DOH school guidance here and the PHHPC regulation here.”
If you have questions about what is happening in your school, please reach out to your school first. Know the state office and your Region Director are also here to help. You can reach the state office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find contact information about your Region Director HERE.
As we continue during this pandemic, we can no longer wait on PTA business. However, the health and wellness of your students, families, educators and members is most important. We also understand that many of you may be facing economic uncertainty, and all of us are coping with social distancing, and we are always here to help.
We would like to personally thank our great educators and school staff, who are working to provide home instruction, meals for students, and critical support for children and families during this pandemic. THANK YOU!
Further, a special thank you to essential employees who continue to serve our communities – health care professionals, first responders, grocery employees, tradespeople, and the others who keep our communities running. THANK YOU!
We are in this #Together. We are #PTA Strong.
NYS DOH message to school leaders, July 6, 2021 (IMPORTANT NOTE – this July 6, 2021 guidance has now been overrode by the September 2, 2021 guidance above)
“We are writing to share three updates relevant to 2021 summer schools.
1.Given current low rates of COVID-19 transmission, schools/district may decide to implement revised masking policies consistent with those available in the archived INTERIM GUIDANCE FOR CHILD CARE, DAY CAMP, AND OVERNIGHT CAMP PROGRAMS DURING THE COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY (https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/Child_Care_Daycamps_Detailed_Guidelines.pdf)
2.Daily reporting to the COVID-19 Report Card is no longer required.
3.Summer schools in NYS may follow either the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools Through Phased Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/operation-strategy.html) or the current NYS INTERIM GUIDANCE FOR IN-PERSON INSTRUCTION AT PRE-K TO GRADE 12 SCHOOLS DURING THE COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY (https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/Pre-K_to_Grade_12_Schools_MasterGuidance.pdf).
4.The above information applies to the 2021 summer session only and additional information will be shared regarding the 2021-2022 school year soon. These decisions, which should reflect local sentiment, may be made by the school superintendent or local board. There is no requirement for additional public meetings.”
- Information for schools on staying open in a Orange or Red Zone (official guidance)
- Information for schools on staying open in a Yellow Zone (official guidance)
- Maps of micro-clusters