ALBANY — All unvaccinated teachers and staff working in New York schools will be required to test once a week for COVID-19, according to new guidance approved by the state Department of Health Thursday.
The emergency regulation — signaled earlier this week by Gov. Kathy Hochul as a priority before kids head back for in person learning — permits all fully vaccinated employees to opt out of the mandatory testing if they show proof of their shot status either with a CDC card or the Excelsior Pass.
The requirement is effective immediately.
“My top priority is to get children back to school and protect the environment so they can learn, and everyone is safe,” said Hochul in a statement.
“On day one of my administration, I announced a series of bold back-to-school initiatives, including a universal mask requirement for anyone entering our schools. We are now issuing guidance to make sure our school staff are vaccinated or tested regularly for themselves and their families, our students, and our communities. Our children deserve to be safe and protected in schools, and I am doing everything in my power to guarantee that.”
The 20-page regulation says all K through 12 schools and school districts will be required to submit daily COVID-19 testing reports to the DOH, including positive test results “reported in any manner to the school, and related information among students, teaching staff, and any other employees or volunteers.”
Schools that violate the requirement will be subject to a maximum $1000 fine per violation.
The document also says the state and New York City have received federal grant funding to offset testing costs, and under ‘Operation Expanded Testing’ — funded by the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Defense — testing in K through 12 schools is free.
The requirement will expire in 90 days, unless renewed by the DOH.
All students, faculty and staff will also be required to wear a mask in public and private schools.