Healthcare

New York to start weekly COVID-19 testing in schools

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that New York City will begin conducting weekly COVID-19 testing in its schools next week. 

"We will now go to weekly testing. We'll be testing in elementary, middle and high school, each school every week," de Blasio said at his daily press briefing. "That will allow more kids to safely remain in the classrooms." 

The mayor also unveiled updated quarantine policies, which will allow unvaccinated students to remain in school after potential exposure to an infected peer as long as they were both masked and maintained three feet of social distance. Previously, unvaccinated students had to quarantine for 10 days in such situations. 

"We've been looking at these two issues over the last few weeks," de Blasio said. "We looked at it in light of the data from the first week of school. We decided to make both of these changes simultaneously, and they do complement each other."

The updated policies are scheduled to begin Sept. 27. New York City is not offering any remote learning options for its students this fall.

De Blasio's announcement follows a letter from United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew urging the Democratic mayor to increase the frequency of testing in the city's schools. 

"While so far our public schools have successfully reopened, I am concerned that this year's reduced frequency of COVID testing means that thousands of children will spend days in classrooms without the early warning system that last year made our schools among the safest places in the community," Mulgrew wrote.

"We must do all we can to keep our schools open and our students and staff safe. Weekly testing of students under age 12, along with those in District 75, must be reinstated if we are to meet that goal," Mulgrew added, noting the rise in pediatric coronavirus cases across the country. 

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