New York State Education Department Releases Guidelines for the Re-Opening of Schools
At its meeting yesterday, the New York State Education Department presented the New York State Board of Regents with a framework and guidance (the “NYSED Framework”) school districts and school districts must follow when developing guidelines for re-opening their physical facilities and operate them during the continuing COVID-19 Pandemic. The Regents also approved another set of emergency regulations to facilitate learning during the Pandemic.
Also yesterday, Governor Cuomo announced the New York State Department of Health’s issuing of Guidance and Guiding Principles (the “Interim Guidance”) in conjunction with the work of Governor Cuomo’s New York’s Reimagine Education Advisory Council. The Interim Guidance announced by the Governor yesterday as well as the NYSED Framework mandate that each school (including charter and private schools) submit their guidelines for re-opening through a State web-based portal by July 31, 2020. The charter school portal can be found here. The Interim Guidance may also be modified at any time by Executive Order, and as the Pandemic continues to be a fluid situation with infection rates rising throughout the Country, further modification may indeed be required. Topics covered within the Interim Guidance include:
- Social distancing;
- Use of cohort structures;
- Restructuring space to maximize in-class instruction;
- Aftercare and extra-curricular activities;
- Health screenings;
- Contact tracing;
- Cleaning and disinfecting school facilities.
Additionally, only schools that are located in regions within New York State that have entered Phase 4 of re-opening are allowed to re-open their physical facilities, and then only if the region’s daily infection rate remains at or below 5 percent using a 14-day average. Schools will close if the regional infection rate rises above 9 percent, using a 7-day average, after August 1. As of today, New York City remains in Phase 4 of re-opening, and a decision is slated to be made soon regarding New York City moving into Phase 4. Last week, the New York City Department of Education announced their guidelines for re-opening physical facilities for the 2020-21 school year.