NEW YORK - In a shift that comes after the CDC recently eased COVID guidelines for the public at large, New York City's Department of Education issued new guidance Tuesday ahead of the return to schools next month.
The most significant change: no longer will the DOE randomly test willing students in school buildings. Instead, they plan to rely solely on at-home tests that families can opt to take at-will.
Students will also no longer have to answer a daily health screener. Vaccines-- while still required for staff and visitors-- will not be mandated for students, unless they participate in sports or other extracurricular activities.
Students who test positive for COVID will be asked to stay home, but they can return to class after the 5th day of isolation if they have no symptoms or their symptoms are improving. And, once back in school, they'd be required to wear a mask through the 10th day.
"I think it's not smart to take these kinds of risks, especially when we know the virus mutates," said Arthur Goldstein, who teaches at Francis Lewis High School.
Goldstein believes the random in-school testing should have been beefed up even further and that this move is the polar opposite of what should have been done.
But a city hall official told FOX 5 NY that the PCR in-school testing that had been in place, provided results on a delay.
In a separate statement, Mayor Eric Adams spokesperson Fabien Levy said that the "continued use of at-home tests will allow us to immediately inform all staff and students if they test positive and need to isolate, and will allow those at home to know whether never to come in."
The teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers, is seemingly on board with the changes, saying in a statement that "as COVID changes, our responses also have to evolve."
Fox5 reached out to the DOE asking for an interview with Chancellor David Banks or for a statement regarding the changes. Those requests were declined.