K-12 School, Childcare, and Early Childhood Education Program COVID-19 Guidance

Page updated: September 12, 2022

Is there updated guidance?

Yes. On August 22, 2022, NYS Department of Health adopted the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Operational Guidance for K-12 Schools and Early Care and Education Programs to Support Safe In-Person Learning (August 11, 2022) and issued its recommendations jointly with the State Education Department. 

The New York State Office of Children and Family Services issued a separate letter updating guidance for child care providers to follow.

Summary of Recent changes as of 8/11/22

  • Removed the recommendation to cohort
  • Changed recommendation to conduct screening testing to focus on high-risk activities during high COVID-19 Community Level or in response to an outbreak
  • Removed the recommendation to quarantine for most settings (including schools and child care), except in high-risk congregate settings
  • Removed Test to Stay recommendation
  • Added detailed information on when to wear a mask, managing cases and exposures, and responding to outbreaks

K-12 Schools and Early Education (August 22, 2022)

Childcare Providers (August 22, 2022)

When is masking required for K-12 Schools and Early Education Programs?

In K-12 Schools and Early Education settings, masking continues to be required upon return from isolation during days 6 through 10 after COVID-19 infection. 

  • Students, staff and teachers must wear masks on return to school during Days 6 – 10 of their isolation period. Whenever persons are expected or required to wear masks, masks may be removed when eating, drinking, singing, going outside, or playing a wind instrument. When masks are removed for these purposes, physical distancing of 6 or more feet should be maintained to the extent possible. 

Masks should be well-fitted and appropriately worn (to cover nose and mouth) and should conform to CDC guidelines for masks and respirators 

Child Care Providers should refer to the August 22, 2022 Office of Children and Family Service guidance letter for information on masking.

Pursuant to the Dignity For All Students Act, students have the right to a school environment free from harassment and bullying. 

Masked and unmasked people will be working and learning alongside each other in schools. There are many reasons a student or staff member may or may not wear a mask, including medical reasons, protecting family members, or a choice for increased protection.  It is essential that schools establish “mask positive” environments so those who wear masks, whether by choice, expectation, or requirement, are not stigmatized, bullied, or made to feel uncomfortable, and likewise, those for whom masks have not been required or recommended.