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New York City public schools to resume in-person learning after holidays amid rising COVID-related pediatric hospitalizations

Children's COVID hospitalizations rising
COVID hospitalizations among U.S. children rising as Omicron spreads 02:32

New York City Public Schools, the nation's largest school district, will welcome students back for in-person learning next week with additional health protocols, officials announced Tuesday. The decision comes as pediatric COVID-19 hospital admissions have been on the rise throughout both the state and city. 

"Schools are among the safest places to be throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and we're working closely with the incoming administration to keep it that way," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement Tuesday. 

Under the new plan, students and staff at public schools are urged to get tested before returning on Monday, January 3. Schools will also expand a random in-school testing program for staff, should they give their consent, and both unvaccinated and vaccinated students and staff. Schools will also continue to require face masks and physical distancing.

Omicron forces schools to consider remote learning 02:11

Those in classes with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 will be provided at-home rapid test kits and required to take two tests. If exposed students or teachers do not test positive and do not present symptoms, they will not be required to quarantine.

The shortened isolation period, which allows those who test positive and are asymptomatic to return to work on the sixth day after testing positive, announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week will apply to fully-vaccinated critical workers at New York City Public Schools.

"The numbers speak for themselves — your kids are safer in school," New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams said in a statement. "Thanks to testing, vaccinations and at-home testing kits we'll keep it that way."

The announcement comes as there has been an uptick in the number of children hospitalized with COVID-19. According to CBS New York, the state recorded 184 new pediatric hospitalizations, 109 of which were in New York City, during the week of December 19 to 23. Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said the increase in pediatric admissions was "about fourfold" what it had previously been.

"Our vaccination rates among 5- to 11-year-olds remain disappointingly low," she said Monday at a COVID-19 briefing. "It's clear that vaccination really reduces the chance of severe illness. Boosting, if you're eligible for it, really adds to that."

She noted that the uptick does not indicate a pediatric epidemic of infection and urged families to get their eligible children vaccinated. 

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