Students in New York City public schools, who are exposed to classmates who have tested positive for COVID-19, can remain in school provided they test negative.
City officials, in recent months, have closed entire classrooms in instances where a student has tested positive. Remote learning has been used for ten days for impacted students, the New York Post reported. This academic year about 4,700 classrooms have been closed, according to the newspaper.
The new guidelines were announced Tuesday by Mayor Bill de Blasio during a virtual press briefing.
"Every child who tests negative comes back to school," de Blasio said.
All students will be provided two at-home testing kits to be used for seven days in the event they are exposed to a classmate who has tested positive.
NBC New York said those students who test negative and are asymptomatic will be able to report back to school the next day. Those students will have to take one more COVID-19 test in seven days and have negative results.
The Post noted that under the new guidelines, students are allowed to attend classes if they or their parents say that they have tested negative. They don’t need to provide proof.
"This guarantees more consistency in their education," de Blasio said. "It guarantees fewer disruptions. And it works because here's the fact we now know: 98% of close contacts don't turn into positive cases themselves. We have a lot of evidence now that tells us this is going to be the approach that works in the future."
The NBC affiliate noted there are currently 1,383 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in New York City schools, 65% of them among students. Since the reopening of schools for in-person in September, students have accounted for 71% of the 26,274 confirmed infections, it said.
U.S. health officials on Monday had cut isolation restrictions for Americans who catch COVID-19 from 10 to five days, and similarly shortened the time that close contacts need to quarantine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the guidance is in keeping with growing evidence that people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop.
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