School districts will be required to implement mandatory health screenings,...

School districts will be required to implement mandatory health screenings, including temperature checks, of students, faculty, staff, and, where applicable, contractors, vendors and visitors. Credit: Sipa USA via AP/Ron Adar / SOPA Images

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Friday that schools statewide can reopen this fall after closing in mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Districts had to submit reopening plans to the state that outlined their health and safety practices, as well as their learning plans. Here are some key questions Long Islanders are asking as schools prepare to reopen in September:

Where can I find my district's reopening plans?

Many school districts have posted reopening plans on their websites. Cuomo on Friday said districts must post their remote learning and testing and tracing plans online. Districts also must hold at least three to five meetings (could be virtual) before Aug. 21 with parents, and one with teachers, to discuss reopening plans.

Will face coverings be required in school? 

Face coverings are recommended to be worn at all times and required to be worn any time or place that individuals cannot maintain appropriate social distancing. Students can remove their face coverings during meals, instruction and for short breaks so long as they maintain appropriate social distance. 

What if student or staff tests positive?

Any individual who tests positive for COVID-19 exposure or symptoms, if screened at the school, must be immediately sent home with instructions to contact their health care provider for assessment and testing. A student must be isolated until a parent or guardian can pick the child up.

Districts should plan for if/when COVID-19 cases are discovered at school, including closing areas or classes where individuals were infected or more broadly the entire school in consultation with the local health department. Districts must work with local health departments in tracing all contacts of the individual.

How will students and staff be screened?

Districts are required to implement mandatory health screenings, including temperature checks, of students, faculty, staff, and, where applicable, contractors, vendors and visitors to identify any individuals who may have COVID-19 or who may have been exposed to the virus. Specifically, all individuals must have their temperature checked each day — ideally, at home, before departing to school — before entering any school facility. Districts also must use a daily screening questionnaire for faculty and staff reporting to school, and periodically use a questionnaire for students.

Can I choose remote learning?

Students who have family members who are in high-risk groups may need to attend school remotely, and districts also must provide remote instruction for medically fragile students if parents choose not to send them back to school. 

What about lunch and other meals?

Districts are required to provide all students with access to meals each school day whether instruction is in-person or by remote.

Where can I find guidelines to reopening?

The state Department of Health issued guidance to schools that can be found at https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/Pre-K_to_Grade_12_Schools_MasterGuidence.pdf. The state Education Department issued guidance at http://www.nysed.gov/reopening-schools/recovering-rebuilding-and-renewing-spirit-new-yorks-schools-reopening-guidance.

SOURCES: New York State Department of Health, New York State Education Department, school websites

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