New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York City Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor David C. Banks, the New York City Test & Trace Corps (Test & Trace), and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) today announced that the city’s in-school surveillance testing program has administered over two million PCR COVID-19 tests to students and school staff this school year. In addition to supporting the city’s “Stay Safe, Stay Open” plan, an additional four million at-home tests will be delivered to schools each week until the end of the school year.
“New York City schools are the safest place for our kids to be because of the steps we’ve taken to make testing accessible,” said Mayor Adams. “We know what works — by doubling COVID-19 testing in schools, getting our students vaccinated, and sending students, teachers, and staff home with at-home tests, we have kept our schools open and students learning in-person. I want to thank the dedicated school testing team that has helped make this possible and provided our students an undisrupted, world-class New York City education.”
“So many people across the city live in intergenerational family homes, with K-12 students, mom, dad, and grandparents all together,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “Family members with preexisting conditions may be at higher risk of contracting the virus and suffering more severe disease symptoms. Thus, surveillance testing in schools has been integral to keeping not only the student but the whole family safe. Thank you to the Test & Trace team, DOE, and everyone who makes this work happen every day in schools across all five boroughs.”
“Thanks to the resilience of our school communities, the continuance of our gold standard approach to health and safety, and our robust surveillance testing program, schools have remained open and students have remained in classrooms receiving the supports they need,” said Chancellor Banks. “I’m proud of our continued partnership with New York City Test & Trace Corps and grateful that we are able to continue to provide the resources needed to keep our students, staff, and communities safe.”
“Our COVID-19 surveillance testing program has proved that schools are the healthiest and safest place for our students to be, and has enabled us to keep our schools open during every stage of the pandemic,” said Dr. Ted Long, executive director, NYC Test & Trace Corps; and senior vice president for Ambulatory Care and Population Health, NYC Health + Hospitals. “I am so proud that in New York City we have created a national model for how to offer safe, in person education – which has been and will be crucial to helping our students recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“These two million tests have protected families, friends and communities, and kept our children in the place where they are safest and healthiest — our schools,” said DOHMH Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “Schools are among the safest places from COVID-19 transmission and that is a result of a team effort in mounting this incredibly successful testing effort.”
In-School Surveillance Testing
The city’s school surveillance testing program, an interagency effort coordinated by the DOE, DOHMH, and Test & Trace manages testing at over 1,900 school locations, conducting nearly 80,000 tests per week to ensure city schools were and continue to be the safest place for young people to be during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The school surveillance testing program — the largest in the nation — expanded in February to double the number of individuals tested in each school by including both unvaccinated students and vaccinated students, as well as staff. The random in-school surveillance program continues to provide public health experts with an accurate look at COVID-19 in schools.
All families, regardless of whether their young person is vaccinated, should consent to in-school testing or return a signed consent form to their school.
Keeping Schools Open
An additional four million additional at-home tests will be delivered to students and school staff each week from the beginning of May until the end of the school year to support the city’s Stay Safe, Stay Open plan. There have been over 16 million at-home tests delivered to schools since the resumption of classes on January 3, 2021.
In accordance with the “Stay Safe, Stay Open” plan, every student and adult in a classroom with a positive case will immediately receive an at-home rapid test kit and need to take two tests in five days. Students who are asymptomatic do not need to quarantine and can continue attending school if their tests are negative. This policy is more expansive than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance, which applies to only designated close contacts.