Operations and Policy: Supporting a High-Quality Environment

We are committed to providing policy and operational supports that aid programs in delivering the highest quality early childhood care and education.

DOHMH has created guidance around what to know about COVID-19, flu, and RSV.

DOE Fall 2022 COVID-19 Guidance

This guidance provides best practice considerations for schools for the 2022-2023 school year to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19 among students and staff.

  • Vaccination: Vaccination is the best way to reduce COVID-19 risk. Encourage up to date COVID-19 vaccination for everyone six months or older.
    • Visit the vaccine finder page or call 877-829-4692 to find a location near you.
    • Up to date includes boosters for everyone who is eligible and additional primary shots for some immunocompromised people. See At-A-Glance COVID-19 Vaccination Schedules (cdc.gov).
    • Vaccination Requirements, as of February 10, 2023:
      • Vaccination is no longer required for all visitors entering school buildings
      • Vaccination is no longer required for all DOE employees
      • Vaccination is no longer required for other individuals who work in DOE buildings
      • Vaccination is no longer required to participate in high-risk extracurricular activities including high-risk PSAL sports 
  • Daily Health Screener:
    • No longer required to enter school buildings 
  • Stay home if sick: Students and staff should stay home if they show any symptoms of COVID-19 or other illnesses and get tested for COVID-19. 
  • Isolate if COVID-19 positive: Students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for 5 days and can return to school on day 6 if they have no symptoms or symptoms are improving. They should wear a mask until day 10 after symptom onset or date of positive test, whichever is earlier. Masks may be removed during this period if the person has received two negative rapid tests 48 hours apart.
    • These cases should be reported to their school so they can be report into the sit room for exposure notifications.
  • Get tested if exposed to COVID-19: Students and staff who are exposed to COVID-19 should get tested.
    • These individuals should receive home tests from their school and take two tests, at least 48 hours apart. All exposed individuals should monitor for fever and other COVID-19 symptoms for 10 days after their exposure. If symptoms begin, they should not attend school and should isolate and get tested for COVID-19 again right away. 
  • Testing:
    • Starting the first day of school, schools will offer home test kits to those with a potential in-school exposure and those with symptoms
    • In addition, each staff and student will receive 4 tests per month to take home. These tests can be used by school families for testing due to symptoms, exposures, high-risk activity (such as travel and large gatherings) and can give staff and students immediate results.
  • Situation Room:
    • Schools will report positive cases of COVID-19 through an online reporting tool.
    • School communities will be notified of cases in their schools through daily email and the Daily COVID map. 
  • Masking- Face coverings are strongly recommended to be worn when indoors. As of December 9, 2022, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has issued a universal indoor masking recommendation for all indoor settings, including schools and daycare centers, given very high rates of flu and other respiratory conditions. Masks will be made available at the school for all those who need/want them.
    • Students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask when:
      • Returning to school on the sixth day after testing positive for COVID-19, through day 10 after symptom onset or date of positive test, whichever is earlier, including when traveling on a school bus. Masks may be removed during this period if the person has received two negative rapid tests 48 hours apart.
      • Entering the school medical room, nurse’s office, or school-based health center.
      • Exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 at school.
    • Students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, are also strongly recommended to wear a mask:
      • When they were exposed to someone with COVID-19, whether the exposure occurred in school or outside of school. The person should wear a mask for 10 days after their last day of exposure and get tested at least 48 hours apart.
      • When they are moderately-to-severely immunocompromised, and masking is recommended by their healthcare provider.
      • In crowded outdoor settings 
  • Ventilation:
    • 160K+ air purifiers distributed to schools – at least two in every classroom
    • Monitoring ventilation in buildings on a daily basis and perform any required work in a timely manner
    • HVAC upgrades in alignment with CDC guidance, including 110,000 MERV-13 filters installed
  • School Building Cleaning:
    • Routine cleaning of surfaces will be maintained

Get Tested

Rapid Testing at Home

Schools are distributing free, take-home COVID-19 rapid test kits to any students or staff who exhibit COVID-like symptoms or have been in a classroom where a positive case has been identified. Anyone who tests positive on a take-home test should immediately report it to the school and begin isolating. No proof of a negative result is required in order for these students to enter the school building. 

Find a COVID-19 Testing Site

All New York City students and staff members are strongly encouraged to get tested. Working in partnership with the Test+Trace Corps, families and staff members can go to any City-run testing sites to get tested or pick up readily available at-home rapid tests.

  • To find a testing site offering rapid tests, visit nyc.gov/covidtest, text “COVID TEST” to 855-48, or call 311

Get Vaccinated

  • Get more information about where to get vaccinated (or call 877-VAX-4-NYC).
  • We strongly encourage the COVID-19 vaccination for all age-eligible students.

Vaccination Portal

Families are encouraged to record their student’s vaccination status in the DOE's COVID-19 Vaccination Portal. Submitting this information will support New York City’s pandemic response and recovery efforts, and help ensure that DOE schools and buildings remain safe places for all students and staff.

  • Students and their families can access the Vaccine Portal with the student's DOE account login credentials (email and password).
  • Visit the DOE Student Account page or help setting up or accessing your child’s account.

The Vaccine Portal will ask you to identify the type of vaccine, where you received it (in or out of New York City) and when you received the vaccine, and will prompt you to upload the image or screenshot of the proof of vaccine.

  • Proof of vaccination can be an image of a vaccination card, NYS Excelsior Pass, or other government record.
  • Take the image or screenshot and save it to your computer for uploading into the portal.
  • The portal can be translated using Google Translate.

Privacy and Security

The privacy and security of your information will be protected by technical, physical, and administrative safeguards, including encryption. This information will be kept confidential in accordance with federal, state, and local laws.

Technical Support

If you encounter technical issues using the Vaccination Portal, please contact the DOE Help Desk by calling 718-935-5100.

School Visitor Policy

Effective February 10, 2023, visitors entering DOE schools, buildings, or DOE Contracted Programs are no longer required to provide proof of vaccination. Visitors should follow the policies outlined on the DOE Website.

School Closure

Schools will be closed only when it is determined by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) that there is widespread transmission in the school. With the health and safety measures in place, we expect that school closures will be limited.


Good ventilation is essential to prevent COVID-19. Over the past year and a half, ventilation in every single classroom across the city has been inspected, updated, and repaired as needed. Every DOE room in use by students and staff for extended periods of time will have fully operational ventilation through either natural, mechanical, or a combination of means.

As an added precaution, every classroom across New York City has been provided with two air purifiers. Cafeterias in bigger schools will be provided with large air units for added protection and window-based exhaust fans to provide additional air circulation, and we continue to increase ventilation in classrooms and schools. These measures meet or exceed guidance from the CDC.

  • You can check the ventilation status of your child’s school online: use Find a School to locate your school's page, which includes a section on Building Ventilation Information.
  • If a room in your child’s school does not have adequate ventilation, it will not be used.


All classrooms and common areas, such as auditoriums and gyms will have hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes available.

Outdoor Learning

Last year, 840 schools took advantage of the innovative Outdoor Learning Initiative to expand their students’ “classrooms”. Schools will continue to use school yards, street space, and parks to provide additional space for learning. Schools in areas hardest hit by COVID-19 will continue to receive priority for the program.

Medically Necessary Instruction

Every year, there are some students with medical conditions that necessitate interim educational services outside of the school building. These services are offered for school-aged children (from 3K to grade 12) in all five boroughs, and can include individual in-person instruction by a certified teacher, or individual and group instruction by certified teachers through digital platforms.

Taking COVID-19 into consideration, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) has determined that students who have one of the following conditions would be provisionally approved for medically necessary instruction:

  • Active Cancer
  • Chronic Renal Diseases
  • Sickle Cell
  • Gastro/Crohn’s Disease
  • Thalassemia
  • Leukemia
  • Metabolic Disorders
  • Heart Conditions
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Adrenal Disorder
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Liver Disease
  • Tumor
  • Congenital Lung Disease
  • Congenital Heart Condition
  • Lymphoma
  • Cerebral Ataxia
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Any family with a student who is immunocompromised due to a medical condition or treatment for an orthopedic, non-orthopedic/medical, or psychiatric reasons a medical condition may apply for medically necessary instruction. Applications from families with any condition not listed will undergo review to determine eligibility.

Policy Handbooks

The Policy Handbook highlights operational guidance and best practices on a variety of topics, including health and safety, facilities and materials, staffing, general program oversight, and instructional programming to support leaders, teachers, and staff in operating high-quality early childhood classrooms. If you have any questions about the guidance provided, please contact EarlyChildhoodPolicy@schools.nyc.gov.

EFQ Supporting Resources

These resources are available to support your training in and use of the Early Childhood Framework for Quality (EFQ).

If you have any questions, please contact EFQ@schools.nyc.gov.

Statement on Positive Behavior Guidance

Programs are responsible for structuring an environment and approaching interactions in ways that build positive relationships with children and families. Children and families should feel secure, supported, and recognized as important members of a program’s community. The Statement on Positive Behavior Guidance outlines the expectations and guidelines around supporting positive behavior in a developmentally appropriate way.

Multi-Factor Authentication for WES

Starting July 1, 2021 all users of the Web Enrollment System (WES) will have to use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to log into WES. MFA will require all users to either acknowledge a prompt appearing on their smartphone or respond to a phone call (Robocall) each time they log in to WES. This new process will ensure that the application meets the City’s latest cybersecurity policies and standards.

Prior to their first login attempt after July 1, existing WES users must enroll in MFA by following these MFA Enrollment Instructions also explained in the following videos:

This one-time action is required in order to initialize your MFA settings prior to your first WES login attempt after July 1, 2021. After July 1, users will not be able to log into WES until they successfully complete their MFA enrollment.

Note that programs must have a valid WES username and password prior to enrolling in MFA. If you do not recall your WES password or if your WES password is no longer active, you must reset your password by emailing missecurityadmin@dss.nyc.gov with subject “Password request”, including your WES username and a cell phone number in the body of the email. You will receive a temporary password within 48 hours via email or text. You will be asked to modify that temporary password when completing your MFA enrollment.

For questions or technical support with MFA enrollment, please contact WES.MFASupport@strongschools.nyc . If your question is related to a technical issue, please make sure to include your WES username in the email, describe the issue you are experiencing and add a screenshot of the error message, if any.

Administration & Finance

NYCEEC leaders play a key role in shaping a vision for how their programs will help students learn and grow within the community each program serves. These resources will help support the management of administrative systems and tasks. 

Health & Safety

NYCEECs provide a safe and healthy environment as the foundation for children as they learn and grow. These resources will help support programs’ efforts towards this goal.

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