The asked-for guidance for going back to school in New York State during a continuing pandemic health crisis is finally here.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Department of Health are issuing the COVID-19 pandemic guidelines for schools ahead of next week’s start of the new school year.

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The Public Health and Health Planning Council September 2 passed an emergency regulation and the Health Commissioner issued a determination requiring all teachers, administrators and other school employees to submit to weekly COVID testing unless they show proof of vaccination. Masks are already required inside buildings under the Governor’s announcement last week and applies to all indoor settings, including indoor sports and extracurricular activities, except for things like swimming where masking is not possible.

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The emergency regulation authorizes the Health Commissioner to require weekly testing or proof of vaccine and will apply to all schools in New York State until it is no longer necessary.

Governor Hochul’s office says school officials, union leaders and other education advocates asked during a recent video conference for the State public health professionals to provide additional clarity and guidance on school re-opening.

Some of the other provisions in the guidance calls for minimum distance recommendations of at least three feet between students and at least six feet between students and teachers and staff who are not fully vaccinated.

The Department of Health guidelines can be found at coronavirus.health.ny.gov.

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