At all times, students and staff must wear face coverings protecting their nose and mouth while at school or on their way to school. Exceptions will be made for children who can’t wear a face covering for medical reasons, and for younger children who aren’t developmentally able to wear a face covering. Students and staff must maintain six feet of physical distancing throughout the school day, anywhere on school grounds and to and from school. Schools will be cleaned throughout the day and disinfected each night, with special attention to high-touch areas. Face coverings, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies will be readily available in throughout every school.


Image showing three elementary age students wearing masks and carrying backpacks
Image showing adult wearing PPE, disinfecting a container, a child wearing gloves and gloves, and a thermometer
image shows two boys and two girls wearing masks and bookbags socially distancing with arrows labeled six feet
Test and Trace Corps logo

Our protocols to keep school communities healthy include:

Prevention: Starting with the first day of the 2020-21 school year, if a student or staff member is feeling sick, they are required to stay home. Additionally, if their symptoms are consistent with COVID-19, they will be asked to get tested.

Feeling Sick in School: If a student begins experiencing symptoms in school, they will be isolated and monitored by a school staff member until they are picked up by their parent or guardian. Staff members who become symptomatic at school must notify administration and immediately leave the building.

Tracing: In the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case in a school, NYC Test + Trace and NYC Health will investigate to determine close contacts within the school. All students and teachers in the classroom with the confirmed case are assumed close contacts and will be instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days since their last exposure to that case.

If there's more than one case in a school, and it's not in the same classroom, learning will continue remotely and the school building will close for at least 24 hours while NYC Test + Trace and NYC Health investigate. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, affected classrooms or the whole building will remain closed for 14 days for quarantine. Students will continue their learning remotely during any necessary quarantine periods.

Communication: Whether symptoms begin at home or in school, there will be a clear flow of information to facilitate fast action and prevent spread. If a COVID-19 case is confirmed, schools will communicate to all families and students at school. Overall Health and Safety Protocols for Every School Testing and tracing are part of several strict health protocols designed to keep our school communities healthy. Here are the key things that you and your family should know about NYC Department of Education (DOE) health and safety practices, policies, and protocols as we re-open our school buildings in September:



Return to SCHOOL 2020

Health and safety always come first

  • PPE and cleaning supplies will be supplied to all schools, and DOE will have a 30-day supply on hand at all times—with a hotline for principals to call for immediate resupply for their schools

  • There will be a full-time nurse in every public school building

  • Any school building or room found to have inadequate ventilation will not be used by students or staff

  • Students and staff will practice physical distancing in all school buildings

  • Students and staff will wear face coverings throughout the school day; if they do not have them, they will be provided for free

  • Students will remain in pods for as much of the day as possible

  • We will place hand sanitizer in every classroom

  • City-run testing sites will prioritize free COVID testing and expedited results for school staff; free testing is also available to all students, families, and New Yorkers citywide

  • We are encouraging all DOE employees to be tested monthly

  • NYC Department of Health and Test + Trace Corps will immediately investigate confirmed cases to prevent spread of the virus

  • Schools will communicate with all students and families when there are confirmed cases in schools

  • When necessary, classrooms or school buildings will temporarily close to maintain safety of

school communities and prevent spread of the virus

School buildings will close if the percentage of positive COVID 19 tests in New York City is 3% or more using a 7-day average—the most aggressive threshold in the nation

NYC Public Schools will be cleaned and disinfected, day and night

  • All school buildings will be disinfected overnight, every night

  • High-touch zones will be cleaned multiple times throughout each day

  • Electrostatic disinfectors will clean surfaces daily with zero physical contact

Students will be learning 5 days a week, no matter what

  • Whether in-person or online, students will study in supportive environments with rigorous academic standards

  • Remote students will interact with their teachers every day Student schedules—both remote and in-person—will be preset and consistent to allow families to plan

  • Academic instruction will integrate social-emotional learning and trauma-informed care to support students holistically

  • Teachers will have time each day to engage one-on-one with students and families


Learn more about NYC DOE’s reopening plans at NYCDOE Return to School 2020

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