Governor Cuomo’s Covid-19 Winter Plan and Revised Department of Health Guidance
In New York State’s continued effort to eliminate COVID-19, Governor Cuomo issued a Winter Plan that details five strategies designed to systematically reduce its spread, in anticipation of a spike due to holiday gatherings. Strategy number three is related to schools with a focus on keeping k-8 and special education schools open. As part of this, the Governor announced that schools in the orange zone must test 20% of in-person students and staff and schools in the red zones must test 30% of students and staff over the course of a month. Governor Cuomo also stated that the state may adjust requirements for specific districts based on special circumstances.
Early this evening, the New York State Department of Health issued revised guidance to schools located in red or orange zones. The memo states that schools have reported nearly 500,000 test results of students, faculty, and staff since September with approximately 13,000 on-site positive cases, yielding a low positivity rate of 2.6%.
The full guidance can be found using the link below. Some of the most notable changes are:
• As stated in the press conference on Monday:
-- Orange zone schools conduct testing of 20% of in-person students, faculty and staff over the one-month period following designation. Testing is to be spread out over the month with 10% tested bi-weekly.
-- Red zone schools conduct testing of 30% of in-person students, faculty and staff over the one-month period following designation. Testing is to be spread out over the month with 15% tested bi-weekly.
• While the schools are not required to close, the guidance states “that if the random sampling generates 9 or more positive cases in any school, or if for a sample size of more than 300 weekly tests, achieves a positivity rate of 2% or higher (6 cases or more depending on sample size) in New York City, or 3% (9 or more cases depending on sample size) outside of New York City, of one such discrete sample, then the school will be required to close.”
• Schools must ensure that face coverings are worn by students, faculty and staff.
• Testing requirements apply to children attending programs 9supporting hybrid or virtual learning) operated by the Office of Children and Family Services located in the school.
• Guidance clarifies that schools may conduct pool testing and accept COVID-19 test results from health care providers.
NYS DOH Guidance Memo:
Please Note the following on P.2 of link above:
For Schools Located in a Geographic Area Designated as a Red or Orange Zone There is no longer a requirement for schools located in red or orange zones to close in-person instruction. Schools in these zones may remain open for in-person instruction, subject to strict adherence to this guidance and any directives issued by DOH.
Here is a link to the Governor’s press release on the Winter Plan:
Governor Cuomo Announces Winter Plan to Combat COVID-19 Surge in New York State | Governor Andrew M. Cuomo (ny.gov)