NY’s Detailed School Rules: Masks, Temperature Checks, 6-Foot Distance, Sports On Hold

From Syracuse.com

Syracuse, N.Y. — Kids, teachers and staff members at every school in New York will need to wear masks for the reopening of school.

Everyone gets a temperature check before entering the building.

Some classes might be moved to municipal buildings if schools do not have enough space to keep students six feet apart.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo today outlined how schools will be able to reopen and pulled the curtain back on some of what they will look like.

In a set of guidelines, the state answered some of the questions parents and school districts have been asking for weeks. The 23 pages go into detail on cleaning, communication, cubbies and lockers, one-way hallways, lunch, physical education and hand-washing.

The state rules don’t order districts to follow one kind of schedule. It’ll be up to each district to choose from all in-person classes, all-remote classes or a hybrid. But those choices depend, in large part, on what the guidelines allow.

Highlights of the guidelines:

  • Masks are required when social distance of six feet cannot be kept; masks are recommended all the time.
  • Six feet is the required social distance, not three feet, which some other states have used. This cuts most class sizes in half, to about 10 or 12 people. The state could also require shields, as schools in other countries have, when the social distance cannot be met.
  • Students should be grouped in smaller cohorts and kept together throughout the day to lower the risk of transferring the virus. The students could stay in one spot and teachers could move throughout the day.
  • There is no decision on sports or other extracurricular activities yet. The guidance makes it clear that no interscholastic sports are allowed right now and more information will be coming soon. Teams typically start to practice in August.
  • Some activities will need 12 feet of social distance. Those include chorus, playing woodwind and brass instruments, and physical education classes.
  • Kids must be six feet apart on buses unless they are related. They also will have to wear masks. That means a bus that usually transports more than 60 kids will have about 10 or 12.
  • Students must be socially distanced during lunch unless they are related. They can eat in their classroom or in the cafeteria, but if they eat in the cafeteria, it must be disinfected between groups. No buffet-style lunch is allowed.
  • There will be daily temperature checks. Anyone with a temperature of over 100 degrees will be sent home.
  • Schools must come up with exemptions for adults and students who have physical or mental health problems that prevent them from wearing masks.

It will be up to the schools to figure out how to meet many of these rules. The state Board of Regents, which oversees the state Education Department, also discussed its guidelines for reopening today. Those rules will be issued Wednesday and will likely include more details on the instructional guidelines schools will have to meet. Districts have until July 31 to complete their plans.

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