New York City is bouncing some 12,000 children from in-person education because their parents haven’t signed a consent form allowing random testing for COVID-19.
The parents of all of the children had registered the students for in-person learning. They’re among 190,000 preschool, elementary and special education students who returned to classrooms earlier this month.
Close to 60,000 preschool and kindergarten children are exempt from testing because officials believe they are less likely to transmit the disease.
But that leaves about 130,000 students who must participate in the testing program, which will include randomly testing 20% of those in each school building.
“Due to the extensive efforts of our staff, 91% of students who need a consent form have one on file,” Nathaniel Styer, a spokesperson for the Department of Education, told The Staten Island Advance. “Students without consent forms, and who do not have approved exemptions, are transitioned to remote instruction.”
Testing is “one of our best tools for stopping the spread of COVID-19 in our schools, and we are focused on making this a brief and gentle experience for our students, led by trained testers,” he explained.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza have repeatedly warned that children wouldn’t be allowed in school if they didn’t submit consent forms.
The students can return to school as soon as their parents sign the forms.
The New York City school system is the largest in the nation, with some one million students. All middle and high school students are currently learning remotely. Many elementary students are also doing online instruction at the request of their parents.
The city shut down all in-person teaching when citywide COVID-19 test results reached 3% positivity in November, but resumed it earlier this month.
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