Letter from Chancellor Porter
September 13, 2021
Welcome to the 2021–2022 school year—our long-awaited homecoming!
I am beyond excited to begin our historic return to full-time, in-person instruction—after the most challenging 18
months of our lives. This year, the first day of school means everything to me. Not only because I’m your Schools
Chancellor, but because I’m also the mother of a New York City public high school student who is over the moon
to return to the classroom full time.
My daughter’s experience is a living, breathing testament to what I’ve learned in more than 20 years as an
educator: nothing replaces the experience between a child and a teacher in a classroom. That is why it feels like a
dream come true to welcome all our children back to safe, supportive, rigorous school environments. The first
day of school is a true homecoming for our school communities.
I know that COVID-19 and the Delta variant are on all our minds, and I want to be clear that the health and safety
of our children, families, and school staff is our highest priority. For the last several months, we have worked
with school leaders, public health experts, and union partners to develop and health and safety approach that
provides multiple layers of scientifically proven prevention strategies.
We are meeting or exceeding Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for cleaning
and disinfecting surface areas in our schools, inspection and certification of ventilation in our buildings, and
regular random testing of staff and students for COVID-19. We know masks work to reduce the spread of disease,
and we are requiring all students and staff to wear face coverings when riding on school buses and anywhere on
school property, indoors and outdoors. This is regardless of vaccination status unless students have a medical
The most important step you can take to protect you and your family from COVID-19 is vaccination. All New
Yorkers ages 12 and older can receive a free COVID-19 vaccine. In partnership with the NYC Test & Trace
Corps and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, all school sites serving children 12 and over are
offering Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations to eligible New Yorkers during the first week of school (with second doses
provided at the beginning of October). No appointment is needed, and you can learn more about site hours from
your school or by visiting schools.nyc.gov/covid19.
You can find the most up-to-date information on how we’re working to keep students and staff healthy and
safe on the DOE’s website for school year 2021–22 at schools.nyc.gov/homecoming.
I hope you are as thrilled as I am about the first day of school. You can be sure I’ll be out visiting classrooms
throughout the week, welcoming back our students, families, and educators—and celebrating all we have done to
get to this point.
As always, I am honored to have you at my side as we usher in our most important first day of school ever. Thank
you for entrusting your children to us.
New York City Schools Chancellor
What’s Happening in NYC Public Schools
September 10, 2021
We can’t wait to welcome New York City students back to the classroom on the first day of school:
Monday, September 13. Please see below for important information about the upcoming 2021-22
school year–and visit our Back to School Checklist for Families (schools.nyc.gov/checklist) for
additional suggestions on how you and your children can prepare for that special day!
• Getting Ready
• COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing
• At Your Child’s School
Health Screening Tool
Before entering school buildings each day, every student and staff member must complete the
Health Screening Form to confirm that they are not experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, have
not recently tested positive, and are not currently required to quarantine based on close contact
with an infected person.
We recommend bookmarking healthscreening.schools.nyc on your device so you can quickly and
easily complete the form before sending your child to school each day.
Remember, if your child feels ill, do not send them to school! We want to keep your child and our
school communities healthy and safe, and we must all do our part.
Stay Connected with the New York City Schools Account
Stay up to date on important announcements from the DOE and your school, including school
closures and events happening in your district or citywide! With a New York City Schools Account
(NYCSA) account, you can update your contact information, fill out important school forms online,
see your child’s grades, schedules, test scores, assigned transportation, attendance, and more.
Learn more at: schools.nyc.gov/nycsa
Submit an Updated Testing Consent Form for Your Child
It is important that you provide consent for your child to participate in the in-school testing program.
Submit your updated testing consent form for your child using your NYC Schools Account (NYCSA)
at schoolsaccount.nyc or by downloading the form online at schools.nyc.gov/covidtesting and
providing the completed printed form to your child’s school.
Testing consent forms submitted in the previous school year expire on September 30, 2021. If you
previously provided consent, your child may be tested this month as part of the in-school testing
program—however, for your child to participate in the testing program for the remainder of this
school year, you must submit a new consent form.
School Visitor Policy
Effective Monday, September 13, all visitors to DOE school buildings are required to provide proof of
COVID-19 vaccination (1 dose), in order to enter the building, except in the case of an emergency. This
proof may be provided in several ways. In order to enter the building, a visitor must:
• show identification,
• have proof of vaccination,
• complete the daily health screening form, and
• wear a face covering.
On the first day of school, 3K/Pre-K parents, in small groups, will be able to walk their children into the
classroom and stay with them briefly on the first day of school without showing proof of vaccination. All
other requirements apply. Please see schools.nyc.gov/2021health for more information.
The first parent-teacher conferences of the 2021-22 school year will take place in the fall of 2021. As in the
previous school year, for the safety of our school communities, all parent-teacher conferences will be held
remotely in school year 2021–22. Your child’s school will be in contact regarding the specific date and time
of their parent teacher conferences.
Face Coverings (Masks)
Wearing face coverings or masks is one of the most important strategies for keeping our school
communities safe. As mandated by the New York State Department of Health, all students and staff must
wear a face covering when riding on school buses and on school property (indoors and outdoors),
regardless of vaccination status, unless they have a medical exemption. Students who are not medically
able to tolerate masks will be provided with alternative accommodations. We appreciate your support in
reminding your student to wear a face covering every day to school. Forgot your mask or need a
replacement? We will make sure to provide your child with one!
Additional Resources for Families
As you prepare for the first day of school, please be sure to visit our website for the most up-to-date
information on the 2021-22 school year: schools.nyc.gov/homecoming
What’s next? At schools.nyc.gov/checklist you’ll find a Back to School Checklist for Families with
steps you can take to prepare for a strong start to the school year.
COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Vaccination
Vaccination is the most important step you can take to protect you and your family from COVID-19.
All New Yorkers aged 12 and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
In partnership with the NYC Test & Trace Corps and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
(DOHMH), all school sites serving students 12 and older are offering Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations
to eligible New Yorkers during the first week of school to make it as easy as possible to get
vaccinated and stay safe. (Second doses will be provided at the beginning of October.) No
appointment is needed at these sites. You can learn more about site hours from your school or by
Vaccine Requirements for Eligible Students Participating in High Risk
Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) Vaccination Policy
As a reminder, COVID-19 vaccination will be required this year for DOE students and staff
participating in Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) sports considered high-risk for potential
COVID-19 transmission. High-risk sports include football, volleyball, basketball, wrestling, lacrosse,
stunt, and rugby. Vaccination will also be required for participation in bowling because while the
sport is not high risk, the locations where it occurs require vaccination.
Participants in fall high-risk sports must get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the first day
of competitive play, which varies by sport. Winter and spring PSAL participants have until the beginning of their season to be fully vaccinated. For additional information about health and safety
protocols for PSAL in the 2021-22 school year, please visit schools.nyc.gov/PSAL.
Extracurricular Activities Vaccination Policy
Consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and State guidance, COVID-19
vaccination will be required this year for students who are at least 12 years old and are participating
in afterschool extracurricular activities considered high-risk for potential COVID-19 transmission.
High risk afterschool activities include:
• Musical Theater
• Dance / Dance Team
• Band / Orchestra / Marching Band
• Cheerleading / Step Teams / Flag Team
Please reach out to your school for additional information regarding participation in these activities.
Department of Education (DOE) Vaccination Portal
You can upload an image of your child’s vaccination card or NYC Excelsior Pass to the DOE’s
vaccine portal at vaccine.schools.nyc. Submitting that information will support New York City’s
pandemic response and recovery efforts, helping to ensure that our school communities remain
safe and healthy.
COVID-19 Testing in Schools
Continuing the safety measures introduced in the previous school year, we will be conducting
regular COVID testing of staff and students grades 1 through 12. That way, action can be taken
right away to protect the school community if there’s a positive case. As noted above, in order for
your child to be included in the in-school testing program, you must submit an updated testing
consent form for your child to your school.
• You can fill out the form using your NYC Schools Account (NYCSA): schoolsaccount.nyc
• Download the form online at schools.nyc.gov/covidtesting
• Don’t have an NYC Schools Account? Learn more at schools.nyc.gov/NYCSA
At Your Child’s School