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We’ve reached a new milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic.

As New York City continues to see ongoing reductions in COVID-19 infection rates across the five boroughs, we’ve reached an incredible moment in our collective battle against COVID-19.

The NYC Department of Education is pleased to announce that beginning on Monday, March 7, 2022, face coverings will be optional on school grounds for students, staff members, and visitors in K–12 environments, including classrooms, gyms, and school buses.

To maintain the safety of our staff members and students in the days and weeks ahead, we will continue to practice strict COVID-19 protocols, including increased ventilation, daily health screenings, and test kit distribution. As wearing face coverings will be optional, anyone who chooses to wear a mask may continue to do so, and students may request masks from their schools if they need one.

That being said, please understand that the DOE’s indoor mask mandate is still active for children in LYFE and EarlyLearn programs, as well as all 3-K, Pre-K, and 4410 classrooms. The children who attend these programs are almost all under five years of age, and since children under the age of five are not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, face coverings remain our strongest defense against COVID-19 for our youngest learners.

Consider Vaccination if You Haven’t Already

Mother placing a face mask on her daughter

Face masks will be optional for the majority of students in kindergarten through grade 12—so anyone who chooses to wear a mask may continue to do so. (Photo credit: August de Richelieu. Used under Creative Commons license. Original photo can be found on Pexels.)

The mask mandate also remains in effect for any staff member or student in grades K–12 who is returning to school on Day 6 following a positive COVID-19 diagnosis or is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms without testing. If you fit either of these criteria, you are required to wear a well-fitting mask at all times on school property until Day 10 following a positive COVID-19 test or first experience with COVID symptoms (without testing). Masks continue to be strongly recommended for any staff members or students who know that they have been exposed to COVID-19 within the previous 10 days. In addition, mask wearing will continue to be required in medical rooms, nurses offices, and in School Based Health Centers—nurses will have masks on hand for anyone entering who may need one.

Social Distancing and Visitor Policies

In accordance with current guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, there are no requirements for social distancing in public spaces in our schools, including classrooms, cafeterias, and auditoriums.

Visitors are still required to show proof of vaccination and complete the DOE’s daily health screening before entering a DOE building, including an NYC public school.

Remember; vaccination is the best tool we have to fight COVID-19 and to keep our City and schools safe for all. Children ages five and up are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine—if your child is eligible, but not yet vaccinated against COVID-19, you can make an appointment on the City’s Vaccine Finder or you can call 311 to find a vaccination site near you. The vaccine is free for all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration or insurance status.

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On behalf of the NYC Department of Education, we thank all of your for your continued partnership.

Official blog for the NYC Department of Education, home of over 1.1 million students across 1,800+ schools

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NYC Department of Education, 2019