Officials from the New York State Education Department released mask guidance for the upcoming school year.

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On Thursday, the New York State Education Department issued a health and safety guide to help schools and school districts as they plan for the 2021-22 school year. Officials say the guide is aimed at keeping students and staff healthy and safe, being responsive to student needs and maximizing in-person teaching.

The guide provides strategies, based on information from the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, to position schools and districts to manage the risks for students and staff from COVID-19 while supporting engaged learning for all students. This guide is designed to be used in conjunction with the numerous other local, state, and national resources available to schools.

Among the biggest takeaways from the guide is that the New York State Education Department is following the CDC's advice and recommends all wear masks in schools.

The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status and community transmission levels.

“At a time when schools are preparing to reopen and the COVID positivity rate is increasing, we must ensure our schools and districts have the most up-to-date resources and mitigation strategies available to keep our children and school staff safe,” Commissioner Betty A. Rosa stated. “Reopening amidst a pandemic for the second consecutive year is truly a daunting task. Our hope is that this guide, coupled with the input of local health officials will help the state’s education community as they prepare for September.”

Administrators are strongly encouraged to partner with their local department of health, director of school health services, and other health professionals when developing their policies and responding to health and safety concerns that may arise during the school year.

The health and safety guide addresses other questions related to: COVID-19 vaccinations, monitoring community transmission, physical distancing, sports and extracurricular activities, COVID-19 screening, health questionnaire screenings, contact tracing, COVID-19 related facilities projects, remote instruction, and funding sources available to schools and districts that may help with preparing for the upcoming school year and beyond. CLICK HERE to read the full report.

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