NYC Schools Can’t Require Testing Consent Forms

NEW YORK -
Mayor Bill de Blasio at the first day of the 2018-19 school year at PS 377 in Queens. (Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

New York City schools will reopen further this upcoming week, with middle school students joining elementary and special needs students attending in-person classes.

But for the first time in weeks, students heading back to school are not bringing back permission slips for coronavirus testing.

New guidelines, coming from the state’s Department of Education, have banned requiring consent forms for random coronavirus testing, Pix 11 reported.

In a letter, Assistant Education Commissioner Kathleen DeCataldo wrote that schools “cannot impose remote instruction on students whose parents/guardians do not consent to surveillance test for COVID-19.”

Schools are expected to test a certain percentage of staff and students, but not to be able to test the entire student and staff population.

In December, 12,000 students went back to remote learning when their parents refused to sign testing consent forms.

The city had made an agreement with the teacher’s unions that as a precautionary measure, 10% of all students, starting with first graders, would be randomly tested to prevent coronavirus spread within schools.

At his press conference on Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed confidence the city will resume its policy after modifications.

“It’s been keeping kids safe, it’s been keeping family safe, educators, staff,” he said. “This is working. we want to stick with it, and I think we’ll get to that point with the state education department.”

He said the city intended to continue it’s current practice, but there is a possibility that mandatory consent may not be necessary if the city reaches a certain threshold of population percentage that have been vaccinated.

___

smarcus@hamodia.com