Changing the Rules: What you should know now about NYC school’s COVID protocols


All fully vaccinated DOE employees and K-12 students who test positive for COVID must quarantine at home for five days. If the student tests negative on day five, that child can return to school but must wear a mask “on school property at all times” until day 10 after their initial diagnosis. The quarantine regulation applies to all students regardless of their vaccination status.

K-12 students who still test positive on Day 5 must be quarantined until “symptoms improve AND [the] The child may return to school if they have been free of fever without taking medication in the past 24 hours OR have isolated for a full 10 days,” the DOE said.

Children Pre-K or younger who test positive for COVID-19 must self-quarantine for a full 10 days.


The DOE has set the threshold for closing a classroom at 10 COVID cases, after previously not releasing its threshold for closing at the start of the school year. (Entire schools were closed during the 2020-2021 school year when four school-related cases emerged in different classrooms in one week.)


Mayor Eric Adams has lifted the mask requirement for kindergarten children through grade 12. He has promised to scrap the mask mandate for students in 3K and Pre-K on April 4 if COVID rates remain low in the city.

“Over the next two weeks we will continue to monitor the numbers closely as we have throughout our pandemic response. And if we see risk levels rising, either before or after the mandate is lifted, we may have another conversation here,” Ashwin Vasan, the city’s health commissioner, said during a March 22 news conference. “For now, however, we feel comfortable saying that masks may become optional if risk levels continue.

The health ministry said the city’s risk level is measured according to definitions by the Centers for Community Disease Control and Prevention of COVID-19, which prioritize hospitalizations and serious illnesses alongside cases. Based on that readout, New York City is currently at low risk as of March 30, but Manhattan is nearing medium risk based on a recent spike in cases.

“The tiers track low, medium, high, and very high risk. They don’t elicit an automatic political response, but they do help guide the public and provide thresholds that we want to get below,” DOH spokesman Patrick Gallahue said in an emailed statement.

He did not answer questions about what specific risk threshold might cause the Adams administration to maintain the mask mandate for the 3K and pre-K population, or what would be required to reinstate the mask mandate for school communities. Changing the Rules: What you should know now about NYC school’s COVID protocols

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