By Renata Stiehl
ALBANY, NY (WENY) – Kids in New York state will head back to school in just a few short weeks, and the state is changing how it handles COVID-19 in schools.
At a public health briefing on Monday, Governor Kathy Hochul announced students will no longer have to quarantine if they are exposed to a positive case, or be required to “test to stay” in school if exposed.
Districts will be able to choose to test for COVID-19 over “close contact” activities. The governor said the changes are to bring New York state in alignment with the most recent CDC guidelines.
“The big news is no more quarantining, no more test to stay, and the days of sending an entire classroom home because one person was symptomatic or test positive, those days are over. We’ve been through that experiment. No longer are we going to be sending kids home, keeping them away from that essential experience of being together in a classroom because we are now still dealing with the fallout of those decisions made when we had less information and there was concern in classrooms, but we now have two years of experience to know that children are safe in classrooms. And when they’re not in a classroom and the learning stops, the traditional learning stops, it can be devastating for the wellbeing of those children. We’re seeing it in the mental health challenges we’re facing now. Suicide rates, depression, real mental health issues that were not there before for many of these children. And that is deeply troubling to us,” said Gov. Hochul.
Schools will provide one test kit per child at the start of the school year. The state also continues to encourage families to get their children vaccinated, having launched a “Vax-to-School” campaign last week.