The city Department of Education plans to send a COVID test kit home with every K-12 public school student before the midwinter break from February 21st to the 25th.

The tests come via the state, after Governor Kathy Hochul announced earlier this week that all school districts in New York will receive tests to distribute to their students specifically for the break, when families may travel or kids may mingle with relatives or friends.

Hochul said the plan is to avoid another outbreak of COVID that disrupted the beginning of the spring semester, when cases of the highly transmissible omicron variant surged throughout New York City and student attendance plummeted, while large numbers of staffers and teachers were out sick.

“Keeping kids in school is best for their health. We keep them safe by making sure that they have test kits that go home with them if necessary,” Hochul said this week. “And I want to announce that as we're approaching the winter break, schools have different times, but between February and March, I want to make sure that we have enough kits to have every child be able to have a test kit sent home with them before the break. They're exposed during the break, they don't go back to school if they test positive.”

The city DOE said in an email Thursday that they will send a test kit home with all students except for 3K and pre-K kids, the week of February 14th. An inquiry about the number of tests in each kit was not immediately answered, though the DOE has been distributing boxes that contain two tests.

There were 1,033,669 K-12 students enrolled in 2020-2021 according to the most recent state data, including charter school students. Hochul also allocated a million tests for New York City public schools ahead of the winter holiday break in December.

It was not immediately clear if the DOE will require students and staff to show a negative test result before returning to school on February 28th. Chalkbeat reported that “some large school districts, including Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, have required students and staff to test negative to return to school after a break to help reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission in classrooms.”

The city did not require a negative test result to return to class January 3rd after the winter holidays.