Coronavirus Updates & Resources
Daily Health Screenings for Students
The Department of Education is asking that children going to school complete a daily health screening (including temperature checks) before they enter buildings. We encourage you to use the Online Health Screening Tool each day that your child attends school in-person.
You can find the online health screening at healthscreening.schools.nyc. When you do the screening at home, you or your child just need to provide the results of the screening either by showing the email on a smartphone or a printout of the results before entering the school building.
If you or your child forgets or is unable to pre-screen, someone will be available at your school's entrance to assist your child in completing the form and checking your child’s temperature.
In order to keep everyone healthy and slow the spread of COVID, students will not be able to attend classes if they have:
Experienced any symptoms of COVID-19
Received a positive COVID-19 test result in the past 10 days;
Been in close contact (within 6 feet for at least 10 minutes) with anyone who tested positive for COVID or who has or had symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 14 days
Traveled internationally or from a state with high levels of COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
As always, please keep your child home if they are sick.
Testing for COVID-19
It’s up to all of us to keep our school communities and families safe by wearing face coverings, keeping our distance, washing hands frequently, and getting tested!
Help us keep our schools open and school communities healthy by getting tested for COVID-19. It’s safe, free, and easy for everyone, regardless of immigration or insurance status. To find a testing site near you, visit nyc.gov/covidtest.
Students in 3K through twelfth grade can get priority testing at 22 Health + Hospitals testing sites throughout the school year. To find a location near you, visit schools.nyc.gov/covidtesting.
Beginning in early October, the DOE will begin testing a random sampling of students and staff in every school. This is essential to keeping your family and school community healthy and safe. We’ll be sharing much more information and a link to a parent/guardian consent form in our next family update.
Transportation to and from School
School buses will have only 25% of students to ensure safe social distancing. Seating on the bus will be marked to show students to where they can sit.
- If students do not have a face covering, the bus driver will provide one. Drivers and attendants will also wear face coverings and gloves. Before sending children on a bus, family members should screen their children’s health at home, including temperature checks, to make certain they are well enough to board a bus and attend school.
- Buses will operate with the windows open if possible.
- Upon arrival at a destination, students will be directed to exit one row at a time.
- Each night, all school transportation vehicles will be cleaned and disinfected following CDC protocols.
Public Transportation and Other Alternatives
Schools will provide free MetroCards to blended-learning students and families for travel to and from school.
- When using public transportation, students will be expected to follow the same social distancing and face covering rules as all New Yorkers.
- For more about MTA procedures, visit mta.info/coronavirus.
Other Important Information
Health and Safety Measures in Schools
To learn more about building safety, food services in schools, testing and tracing, and personal health measures all schools are taking to keep your children safe, visit schools.nyc.gov/RTShealthsafety.
What Teaching and Learning Looks Like This Year
To learn more about blended learning, social-emotional learning and mental health, supports for multilingual/English language learners, students with disabilities, students in temporary housing and foster care, students who are 21 or older, and students in early childhood programs, visit schools.nyc.gov/RTSteachinglearning.
School Schedules for Elementary, Middle, and High Schools
To learn more about schedules, sibling schedules, and what happens when students come to school on the wrong day during blended learning, visit schools.nyc.gov/RTSschedules.
June 18th, 2021 - Family Update Letter
June 18th, 2021
We made it!
Despite a pandemic that turned our lives upside down, we are at the finish line of this school year. I want to take this moment to honor and celebrate all that our families and students have accomplished during
this difficult year and a half. We are ending this school year strong because of you. Because you and your children made education a priority.
There is a quote from my favorite author, Maya Angelou, which speaks to the strength and resilience of the human spirit. In an essay in her 2009 book Letter to My Daughter, Angelou wrote: “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
This sentiment, of rising in the face of adversity, describes our amazing students and families, who persisted despite untold challenges. Together, you:
- Adapted to learning from home, and in some cases returning to buildings after months away.
- Stayed focused on schoolwork.
- Learned a new way of connecting with family members and friends.
- Made the most of every single day, whether studying remotely or coming to school with masks on.
In that same spirit of solidarity, I want to call your attention to an important date, June 19,
which commemorates Juneteenth and the end of slavery in the United States. As an educator, I believe that it’s critical to teach our students about the ongoing legacy of slavery in both the context of Black history and American history at large. And now Juneteenth will enter the history books for another reason: this week, President Biden signed legislation making June 19 a federal holiday. This year, Juneteenth occurs as we continue to reckon with systemic racism, and the harm and hurt it causes our neighbors, fellow New Yorkers, and fellow Americans. I think about the ways the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on people of color. I think about our nation’s first true reckoning with the Tulsa Massacre, 100 years later. And I think about all the work we must do to create equity in all our schools.
If you want to learn more about Juneteenth and its significance to New Yorkers and Black Americans,
please visit click here to watch our video and find resources for learning and thinking about this important day.
As your Chancellor, it’s my job to ensure that our one million students learn to think critically and have the skills to succeed in a world we adults cannot even imagine. Honestly, I am awed by you. You and
your children taught us so much this year—from how to use your voice to create change to how to stay strong when times get tough. How to adapt to the things we cannot control, and how to follow Maya Angelou’s lead and not be reduced by them.
You also raised your voices when you saw terrible acts of violence towards your neighbors and made it clear that you would not tolerate anti-Black violence, anti-Semitism, anti-Asian violence, Islamophobia, xenophobia, homophobia, or any acts of bias or discrimination that cause harm every day. You have stood in solidarity with your communities—because that’s what New Yorkers do.
Although I have been in this role for less than four months, I am certain of one thing: Together, there is nothing we cannot achieve. If we made it through the last year and a half, we will be ready to rock in September.
In advance of in-person learning for all students this fall, I encourage everyone ages 12 and older to get vaccinated for COVID-19! It’s the best way to keep our communities and city safe. You can make an appointment for yourself and your child by visiting the vaccine finder website.
Being an educator for more than 20 years, I also cannot help but close with an assignment (don’t worry, there won’t be a test). I want you and your children to celebrate all that you have achieved this year. I hope you spend a lot of time together, hug often, have new experiences, find reasons to laugh. And recharge your batteries.
We made it this far together, and I cannot wait to see what we do this fall.
New York City Schools Chancellor
May 24th, 2021 - Family Update Letter
May 24th, 2021
First, thank you. I know the past year has required resiliency, determination, flexibility, and sacrifices from all of us, and from you in particular. You have taken on new roles that many of you never imagined you’d have to take on, and have balanced so much while coping with losses and the many life challenges that COVID-19 brought to us over the past year.
As we close out this school year, I am looking forward to the opportunity that lies before us to reimagine what school is and means for your children. We know that we have to welcome our students back to a warm, welcoming, and affirming learning environment that challenges them academically while lifting them up when they need support.
As our schools work hard on re-imagining how we educate our children, I am excited to share with you our re- opening plans for fall 2021. Based on available health indicators, we will return to full-time, in-person learning this September. This means that all students in grades 3-K through 12 will be learning in-person this fall.
All teachers and staff will also be returning to in-person instruction this fall. We are very grateful for the dedication of all our principals, teachers and school staff and recognize the hard work they have done during this challenging year, and we’re excited for your children to re-connect with their beloved teachers and school staff, in addition to their peers, this fall.
As we prepare for your children, as well as teachers and staff, to return to schools, we will continue our commitment to prioritize health and safety first. With a current rolling 7-day COVID positivity rate of 0.16% and a consistently low transmission rate, our schools have a proven track record of being safe. We will meet whatever the CDC social distancing requirements are in September, and we expect that the city’s continuously improving health metrics may allow for more flexibility by the fall. Finally, in our commitment to keep health and safety a top priority, we plan to adhere to the many health and safety measures we had in place this past school year, including the following:
Masks will continue to be a requirement in all of our school buildings
Individuals with COVID-19 symptoms will continue to be required to stay at home
Students, teachers and staff will continue to complete the daily health screener at home
Every school building will continue to have a nurse
Every classroom will have working ventilation systems
On-site COVID-19 testing will continue in school buildings as recommended by the latest health guidance
The Situation Room will continue to support schools with next steps if there are positive cases
We know that many of our students have not attended school in-person since March of 2020, and that returning to school in-person this fall will be an adjustment. We promise to do everything we can to welcome your children back and provide the supports needed to ensure a positive homecoming. We’ve already made investments to hire more teachers and social workers, and will have academic and social-emotional learning programs available to support our students. Here are some ways that we are supporting with the transition now, and we encourage you and your children to participate:
Chancellor’s Borough-Wide Family Forums: I am hosting borough-wide family town halls to hear more from you about this fall, and how we can use our resources to ensure a positive homecoming for your children and provide an enriching and challenging academic experience that integrates social-emotional learning. To learn more and register, please visit us here.
School Open Houses: Starting in June and throughout the summer, every school will host open houses for families to visit, take a tour, and learn about the health and safety precautions in place that have kept our schools safe over the last year. Your child’s school will be in touch with you about when these will be scheduled, and we encourage you to participate to learn more.
Summer Rising: In partnership with the Department of Youth and Community Development, we are so excited to provide an enriching, fun and joyful summer camp experience for any interested student. We encourage your child to join us - to be welcomed back into their school communities, re-connect with teachers and staff, and get ready for fall while having fun! Families can sign up here.
Thank you for your partnership, your engagement, and your dedication to your children’s education over the last year. I am in awe of how our communities came together to lift each other up to ensure our children had the best experience possible despite enormous challenges. I am looking forward to partnering with you, learning from you, and leveraging all we‘ve done together over the last year to create a new normal starting in September - one that is warm and welcoming, affirming and enriching, and exciting and challenging - for each one of your children.
New York City Schools Chancellor
April 24th, 2021 - Family Update Letter
April 24th, 2021
All of us at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene hope you are safe and well. The City of New York has now administered more than five million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, marking a major step forward in our fight to beat back this virus. I am writing to share the good news that all New Yorkers age 16 and older are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
If you have a child who is at least 16 years old, I strongly encourage you to make a vaccination appointment for them as soon as possible by visiting the vaccine finder. You can also call 877-VAX-4-NYC (877-829-4692) for help making an appointment at a City-run vaccination site.
By getting your child vaccinated, you are helping to protect them from COVID-19 and making your community safer. Also, please consider vaccination for yourself and other household members age 16 and older, if not vaccinated already. Vaccination is the most important step you can take to protect you and your family from COVID-19. While we encourage everyone age 16 and older to get vaccinated, vaccination is especially important for those with an underlying health condition, such as asthma, obesity or diabetes. The same is true for those who live in a multigenerational household or with a person who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness. Vaccination is provided at no cost to all and regardless of immigration status.
Of the vaccines currently available in the United States, the Pfizer vaccine is the only one authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for people age 16 and 17. The Pfizer vaccine has been shown to be safe and very effective at protecting people from severe COVID-19 illness, hospitalization, and death.
While you may be asked about health insurance, it is not required. Your insurer may be billed by the vaccinating provider, but you will not be charged a copayment or other fee.
A Few Things to Know About the Pfizer Vaccine:
- Type of vaccine: mRNA (see How the mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Work).
- Number of shots: two shots, 21 to 42 days apart
- How it is administered: a shot in the muscle of the upper arm
- Does not contain eggs, animal products, preservatives, latex, or the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Side effects are usually mild to moderate and may include soreness or swelling on the arm where you got the shot, headache, body aches, tiredness and fever. Side effects are more common after the second shot and less common in older adults. Side effects usually last about one to two days after they begin.
- Your child cannot develop COVID-19 from the vaccine.
For more information about the vaccine, see the FDA factsheet.
Where Can My Child Get Vaccinated?
Visit vaccinefinder.nyc.gov to find a site that offers the Pfizer vaccine. There are many places in NYC where your 16- or 17-year-old can receive the Pfizer vaccine, including most hospital clinics. If your child’s doctor is affiliated with a hospital, check with them about available appointments. Sites that offer the Pfizer vaccine include:
- • Some NYC-run vaccination sites, including Citi Field (Queens), Martin van Buren (Queens), Teacher’s Prep (Brooklyn), and Empire Outlets (Staten Island)
- • Hospitals and hospital clinics, including NYC Health + Hospitals acute care hospitals
- • Certain Federally Qualified Health Centers and community health centers
- • Pharmacies, including select CVS and Walgreens/Duane Reade locations
- • New York State vaccination sites, including Javits Center (open to all NYC residents), Bronx - Bay Eden Senior Center (open to all NYC residents), Medgar Evers College (Brooklyn residents only), and York College - Health and Physical Education Complex (Queens residents only)
How Should We Prepare for an Appointment?
Your 16- or 17-year-old will need to bring their vaccine appointment confirmation.
1. For minors under the age of 18, a parent or legal guardian must provide consent to vaccination, either in person or by phone at the time of the vaccine appointment. Minors must present identification to verify that they are at least 16 years of age or have a parent present to attest on their behalf.
2. Some vaccination sites may require proof of NYC residency or residency within a certain borough or ZIP code. Learn about acceptable proof residency documentation at nyc.gov/covidvaccine.
3. Everyone must complete the NYS COVID-19 Vaccine Form in order to get vaccinated.
4. You do not need to show proof of immigration status or a social security number. Immigration status does not need to be confirmed when registering for or attending a vaccine appointment.
5. Children with disabilities may be eligible for free transportation to and from vaccination sites. Services are provided courtesy of the Curb app. After booking a vaccination appointment, participants will be screened and directed to Curb’s 24/7 call center. The call center helps book the trip by taxi or ambulette service as appropriate.
You or your eligible teen may have additional questions about COVID-19 vaccines. We encourage you to discuss any concerns with your child’s primary care provider so you and your child can feel confident about your choice. You can also test answers to frequently asked questions on the NYC Health Department’s COVID-19 vaccine facts page. Visit nyc.gov/covidvaccine for more information.
Daniel H. Stephens, M.D.
Deputy Commissioner, Division of Family and Child Health
NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene