After two school years under strict COVID-19 pandemic rules, students in New York are finally free for the upcoming school 2022-2023 school year, which begins on September 8. During a Monday press conference, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) revealed that certain changes will be in place.
There’s no replacement for in-person learning. We're aligning with @CDCgov to help keep kids safe and in school:— Governor Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) August 22, 2022
? No longer need to quarantine after exposure
? Stay home & get tested if sick
? If positive, isolate for five days & return once symptoms resolve
Such changes include no longer requiring students to isolate or quarantine if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID. Further, entire classrooms won't have to be sent home if one person has tested virus.
"No more quarantining — no more 'test to stay,' Hochul said on Monday. "The days of sending an entire classroom home because one person was symptomatic or tested positive — those days are over," she added.
"What that means is if a classmate tests positive for COVID and your child doesn’t have symptoms, your child can stay in school as long as they wear a mask under those circumstances. That’s what we’re recommending," the governor also explained.
These changes come over a week after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated its own guidance over social distancing, though the agency has often been behind the times when it comes to such changes.
A CDC report from last week finally admitted what so many already knew, that it had failed in its handling of the pandemic, with CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky admitting their "performance did not reliably meet expectations." While the CDC looks to regain trust, that might be quite hard to accomplish given how much of it has been destroyed, perhaps for good.
Also during her press conference, Hochul acknowledged what many have raised as a concern for years now, which is how much of an effect school closures and lockdowns have had on children. The governor acknowledged the "suicide rates, depression, real mental health issues that were not there before for many of these children," which she referred to as "deeply troubling to us" which means "we’re aligning ourselves with the CDC."
Reporting from The New York Post on the press conference and such changes includes comments from New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D), who had been seen as something of a beacon of hope on this issue before he took office. He ultimately kept younger students forcibly masked for much longer than most of the country, though. "I respect the decision of the governor," Adams is quoted as saying.
New York's Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt (R) in a statement to The New York Post welcomed the move but called for more. "Today’s announcement is a long overdue victory for parents and students across New York. I am glad the Governor finally heeded my call to drop COVID restrictions in schools. I now call on her to drop ALL the restrictions and end the emergency today," his statement said.
The federal declaration of emergency due to COVID, which looks like it'll be extended, and those that remain in the states are thanks to the Biden administration and Democratic governors, including those who have abused such powers. One notorious example included Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, of Michigan, though a voter initiative allowed the Republican-controlled legislature to strip her of her emergency powers last summer.