Since September, our stringent safety policies have proven successful — keeping the percentage who test positive within our schools low throughout the year. Thankfully, as school staff get more access to the vaccine, the number of adults accounting for new positive cases in our schools is decreasing.
But our children don’t have access to the vaccine yet, and we need to keep monitoring them inside schools to keep them safe. While the mayor has been fixated on removing the two-case rule for some time, we knew we must follow the science and the advice of our independent medical experts during any change in policy. Our independent medical experts have advised us to shift our attention from unlinked cases within schools to the cases within schools that can be traced to a common source. Our focus should shift to even greater monitoring inside the schools. We need to maintain a strong pulse on what’s happening in our schools to avoid spread.
We understand that as circumstances and science evolve, policies should shift to keep up. We have negotiated with City Hall to create a new protocol for closing classrooms and schools that will take effect on Monday, April 12. The goal of these negotiations was to preserve our current level of safety, mitigating spread within schools, while reducing classroom disruptions for our members, students and families.
Here are the details of the new protocol for classroom and school closures:
- We will continue our very strong classroom closure rule. If there is a positive case found within a classroom, that classroom must move to remote learning for 10 days.
- If any school has two or more positive cases in different classrooms within seven days, in addition to moving those classrooms to remote learning for 10 days, testing will be increased to 40 percent for that school building for the next weekly testing cycle.
- If four or more cases are found in different classrooms within one school in a seven-day period, and those cases can be traced to a common exposure within the school, the entire school will move to remote learning for 10 days.
- Co-located schools within buildings will be considered separate from each other, as long as the schools can prove that there is no physical interaction with the other schools.
It’s been a long road, but as a city, we are making progress against this virus. We have undergone so many changes this year, and I know how flexible you have been to provide as much stability as possible for the students you serve. These new safety protocols will take us through June and give us more consistency while continuing to keep us all safe.