New York City

Note: Recipient-submitted material; content authored by recipient, not ELC
Information current as of October 6, 2021

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To learn more about New York City’s school testing plans, visit their websiteexternal icon.

Management structure for school screening

New York City (NYC) Test and Trace Corps (T2) is a public health initiative to fight the threat of COVID-19. The program is led by NYC Health + Hospitals in close collaboration with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and other city agencies. T2 is responsible for managing all testing execution at each of the NYC Department of Education’s (DOE) over 1,600 public school buildings across the five boroughs. T2 selected and contracted with testing providers, provides daily oversight of the testing providers, and ensures all schools are contacted in advance of testing on a weekly basis (current program testing frequency), and their testing meets the established testing threshold. T2 also collaborates closely with the DOE on all school-facing and family-facing COVID-19 testing program communication. The same policies will dictate charter and non-public schools, which opt-in to the testing program.

Support provided to school districts

The NYC DOE health and safety protocol details a layered testing strategy for K-12 schools. The DOE is committed to continuing and enhancing health and safety measures established during school year 2020-2021. During this coming school year (2021-2022), the NYC DOE mandated vaccination for all staff (eliminating the need for weekly testing for staff, but not unvaccinated students) and is encouraging schools to promote vaccination for eligible students. Further, the DOE will be mandating mask wearing while in all DOE buildings and daily health screening to enter DOE buildings. The DOE has been working to maximize all usable space within buildings to keep students properly socially distanced and has been working to ensure proper ventilation. The DOE increased the number of HEPA purifiers in each classroom and in shared spaces.

In addition to the efforts outlined above, T2, in partnership with the DOE, will be administering a school-based COVID-19 surveillance testing program. Testing takes place within all 1,600+ NYC public school buildings across the five boroughs of NYC. The testing program includes unvaccinated students in grades 1 through 12. Testing is opt-in (voluntary) and students who are vaccinated are excluded from the testing requirement. Each week, a sample of 10% of in-person, unvaccinated students are randomly selected for testing. If positive cases are found during surveillance testing or reported by members of the school community, the DOE Situation Room will take corrective actions as needed.

The DOE Situation Room opened in September 2020 as a cross-agency effort to centralize the response to positive tests conducted inside and outside schools, to manage decisions about quarantining, case investigation and contact tracing, and to inform any consideration of classroom or building closures after positive cases are discovered. In-school surveillance results are shared directly by testing providers (contracted by T2) to the Situation Room to allow for real-time decisions and take immediate actions for quarantine and other mitigation strategies as soon as positive tests are resulted.

As observed during last school year and during summer school, schools have a lower percent positivity than the community, and transmission of COVID-19 among students and teachers in remote learning was the same, if not greater, than students and teachers in-person in school. If community levels are high, NYC will examine zip-code and neighborhood level details to determine if there is an elevated risk. School data is then evaluated to determine if trends necessitate additional surveillance testing within the school.