2022-23 Letter to Parents & COVID Information
Dear PS 26K Families and School Community Members,
We’re excited to welcome you back to school on Thursday, September 8! As you prepare for the first day of school, we want to ensure that you’ve received New York City’s most up-to-date guidance on health and safety.
Reduce COVID-19 Risk
- Get vaccinated! This is the best way to reduce COVID-19 risk.
- We strongly encourage all eligible New Yorkers to stay up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots. To find a vaccine site near you, visit nyc.gov/vaccinefinder(Open external link)Opens in a new browser tab or text your zip code to 438829. For more information on COVID-19 vaccines, visit nyc.gov/covidvaccine(Open external link)Opens in a new browser tab.
- Vaccination is still required for all visitors entering school buildings. This includes NYC Department of Education (DOE) employees; anyone who works in DOE buildings; and anyone participating in high-risk extracurricular activities, including Public School Athletic League (PSAL) sports. To learn more, please visit schools.nyc.gov/2022healthOpens in a new browser tab.
- Wear masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Masks will be available at your school. We recommend wearing well-fitting masks when indoors, and when exposed to someone with COVID-19 in or outside of school. All students and staff are required to wear a mask when:
- Entering the school medical room, nurse’s office, or school-based health center,
- Returning to school (including traveling by school bus) between days 6 to 10 after a COVID positive test or, if earlier, after the onset of symptoms, and
- Showing symptoms of COVID-19 at school.
- Test for COVID-19. Starting on the first day of school, schools will offer home test kits to students and staff who may be at risk of exposure and students or staff experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. In addition, each staff member and student will receive four tests per month to take home. In-school PCR testing will not be a part of the 2022-23 school year.
- Stay home if you are sick. If students and staff show any symptoms of COVID-19 or other illnesses, they should stay home and get tested for COVID-19. This year, you will not need to complete a Daily Health Screening to enter school buildings.
- Isolate if you are COVID-19 positive. Students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for at least 5 days and can return to school on day 6 (masked through day 10) if they have no symptoms or if symptoms are improving. Be sure to report a positive case to your child’s school.
This year, schools will continue to follow CDC guidelines, using air purifiers and updated HVAC systems. Building ventilation will be monitored daily, and surfaces cleaned regularly.
Get Vaccinated Against Polio
Poliovirus has been identified in wastewater samples in New York City, following a case of polio identified in Rockland County. Everyone who is unvaccinated against polio — especially children — should get vaccinated immediately. Parents can check the records for their children here: myvaccinerecord.cityofnewyork.us/myrecord(Open external link)Opens in a new browser tab. Vaccination against polio is required to attend school in New York City.
If your child needs to get vaccinated against polio, make an appointment with your pediatrician or regular health care provider. If your doctor does not have the polio vaccine or you do not have a doctor, call 311. Children should get four doses of poliovirus vaccine, starting at age 2 months. Anyone starting the vaccine after age 4 months should receive a total of three doses.
Find out more about protecting yourself and your children against polio at nyc.gov/health/polio(Open external link)Opens in a new browser tab.
Learn About Monkeypox
Monkeypox is a disease caused by the monkeypox virus, usually spread through direct skin-to-skin contact with the sores of someone who has monkeypox. It can also be spread through contact with clothing or bedding, or from respiratory droplets during face-to-face contact. In this current monkeypox outbreak, the virus has spread mainly among adults during close contact, such as during sex, kissing, cuddling, and massage. It can cause sores that may look like pimples or blisters, be firm to the touch, and have a dip in the center. Some people also have flu-like symptoms.
- Do not assume someone has monkeypox if they have a rash or sores. Most rashes and sores are not caused by monkeypox virus. Sores are very common among children, and are usually due to bug bites, acne, allergies, or other causes that are not contagious and do not require staying home from school, child care, or afterschool activities.
- Children who have a new or unexplained rash or sores should be seen by the school nurse or by their health care provider. You can find more information on monkeypox at nyc.gov/monkeypox(Open external link)Opens in a new browser tab.
Get Ready to Go Back to School on Thursday, September 8!
As you and your child gear up for the first day of school, get off to a flying start with these suggestions. For more tips, read our Back to School Checklist at schools.nyc.gov/checklistOpens in a new browser tab.
- Plan Ahead. Review the 2022-23 School Calendar at schools.nyc.gov/calendarOpens in a new browser tab for information on upcoming events and closures throughout the year.
- Stay Connected. Sign up for a NYC Schools Account (NYCSA) and update your emergency contact information at schools.nyc.gov/NYCSAOpens in a new browser tab.
- Stay Healthy. Submit all required health forms (schools.nyc.gov/schoolhealthOpens in a new browser tab) and check that your child is up to date on all required American Sign Language (video)(Open external link)Opens in a new browser tab
After six months as your New York City Schools Chancellor, I feel enormous gratitude as we approach the end of the school year. In that short period of time, you helped me begin to realize my vision of empowering our families to be genuine partners in the decisions we make together for our students. Your input is shaping everything we are doing in our schools, and we can all see the difference!
Think back to when I first started on January 3, at the height of the Omicron variant surge, when our attendance rate was only 65 percent. We implemented a variety of measures to improve safety called Stay Safe, Stay Open. That included increased testing and offering highly successful vaccinations on-site for our students.
By the end of January and continuing since then, our attendance returned to nearly 90 percent. After more than two years of upheaval and trauma caused by the pandemic, our families, students, and staff deserve so much credit for persevering and enabling us to end this school year on such a high note!
All of the initiatives that we announced in recent months are the result of input from our families and will be developed in partnership with them. Those include our improved literacy instruction and dyslexia interventions, violence interruption programming to improve safety, expanded access to gifted and talented programs, and a variety of new efforts to enable our high school students to gain skills valued in the workforce.
We are relying on our families because I have learned throughout my lifelong career as a New York City educator that the best ideas and most successful initiatives arise from conversations with families. You know the needs of your children and the strengths and weaknesses of your schools better than anyone. I have been preaching to everyone throughout our school system that they need to seriously engage with families and respond effectively to their concerns. No more imposing big changes without first seeking meaningful feedback from our families.
For those reasons, we are streamlining our school system and opening up clearer channels of communication with our leaders. That includes empowering our local district superintendents and school principals so that families can more directly and easily communicate with those in charge. In recent weeks, families across the city have had opportunities to meet at town halls with finalists for the 45 New York City public school superintendent positions to ensure that the most qualified and effective individuals fill those vital roles. Thanks to your feedback, I am confident that you will be excited about the leader of your district starting July 1; you can learn more at District LeadershipOpens in a new browser tab.
I hope you’ll agree that we’re listening, we hear you, and together we’re building a new future for New York City schools! As you enjoy the summer, I hope that you and your children will take advantage of all the amazing cultural and recreational opportunities the city has to offer.
Have a safe and fun summer. The best is yet to come as we advance toward the 2022-23 school year!
Yesterday, Mayor Adams announced that, starting Monday, June 13, face coverings will be optional for students in early childhood schools or programs.
To maintain the safety of our staff and students, we will continue to practice strict COVID-19 protocols, including increased ventilation, a daily health screening, and test kit distribution. Mask-wearing will become optional indoors, outside, and on school buses.
Anyone who chooses to wear a mask may continue to do so, and your child may request a mask from their school or program if they need one. Masks are strongly recommended for any staff member or student who knows they have been exposed to COVID-19 within the previous 10 days. Mask wearing is still required in medical rooms and nurses’ offices. Nurses will have masks on hand for anyone entering who may need one.
Looking forward to working together this year in support of healthy and happy children.
Diana Collazo- Funtleyder