The New York City Department of Education is shortening its quarantine requirements for most students.
Under new rules that go into effect Monday January 31st, the quarantine period for students who test positive is being reduced from 10 days to five with some conditions. Students, from kindergarten through 12th grade, who test positive can return on the sixth day after their first positive test, if they have been fever-free without medication for 24 hours. Students do not have to show a negative test to return, but must wear well-fitting masks.
The quarantine period for students in 3K and pre-K who test positive remains 10 days, but their classmates won’t have to quarantine for as long.
Education department officials said the policy change is based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and New York State Department of Health guidance, and it conforms with guidance released for staff weeks ago.
There are also changes for unvaccinated K-12 students who are exposed to the virus outside school: their quarantine period is also down from 10 to five days. If a student is exposed to the virus by someone inside their home, they must quarantine for five additional days after the isolation period for their other household member ends.
The moves come just weeks after another significant change to quarantine policies that went into effect in the new year. Now, when a student is exposed to a positive case in school, they are sent home with two rapid tests, to be taken on the first and fifth days after exposure. If the student tests negative, they can keep coming to school.
For students who are returning on Day Six following a positive test, the city is recommending KN95s and will supply adult KN95 masks for students who can use them or surgical masks.
The fate of New York state’s mask mandate was called into question Monday when a Nassau County Supreme Court judge ruled that it could not be enforced. By Tuesday, dozens of New York school districts, mainly on Long Island, told families masks had become optional. But the state quickly appealed, and an appellate judge placed a stay on the order Tuesday afternoon, leaving the mask mandate in effect.
Another hearing is scheduled for Friday, and the state education department announced New York students must continue to wear masks as the case makes its way through the courts. New York City officials also assert that their mask mandate for schools predated the state rule and will remain in place regardless.