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New York State issues new COVID guidance, requirements for schools

Unvaccinated teachers and school employees will be required to take weekly COVID tests. Those who are vaccinated can opt out after providing proof of their status.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul issued COVID safety guidelines for schools across the state on Thursday night.

Among the details: unvaccinated teachers and school employees will be required to take weekly COVID tests, while those who are vaccinated can simply opt out. The emergency regulation "will apply to all schools in New York State until it is no longer necessary," according to Hochul's office.

Vaccinated employees will need to show an Excelsior Pass or a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine card.

It's similar to a move the Hochul Administration made on August 27, when it announced that an emergency regulation filed by New York State will require all students, faculty and staff to wear masks inside school buildings.

The New York State Department of Health also issued official guidance when it comes to classroom instruction.

"Schools should implement physical distancing to the extent possible within their structures but should not exclude students from in-person learning to meet a minimum distance requirement," the state said.

Three feet of distance is "strongly recommended" by the state between all students.

The recommended distance is six feet between students and school employees, as well as all unvaccinated people.

Wearing masks will be required for everyone on buses. That applies for both public and private school systems regardless of vaccination status.

"My top priority is to get children back to school and protect the environment so they can learn, and everyone is safe," Governor Hochul said in a statement announcing the guidance. "On day one of my administration, I announced a series of bold back-to-school initiatives, including a universal mask requirement for anyone entering our schools.

"We are now issuing guidance to make sure our school staff are vaccinated or tested regularly for themselves and their families, our students, and our communities. Our children deserve to be safe and protected in schools, and I am doing everything in my power to guarantee that."

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