NYC private schools preparing for COVID-19 surge after holidays

The city’s top private schools are bracing for COVID upheaval with classes set to resume next week amid a surge in cases.

Elite bastions including Spence and Horace Mann are implementing new vaccine mandates, specifying acceptable mask types and requiring negative COVID-19 to for kids to return to school.

Spence canceled classes Monday to provide parents a free day for kids to get tested.

“I realize how challenging a no-school call can be for families, and I appreciate your support and understanding,” wrote Spence chief Bodie Brizendine in a letter to families. “For all of us this is about staying safe and staying in school, and this is the best possible option for both.

The Collegiate School in Manhattan is joining other city private schools in requiring eligible students to get fully vaccinated — and boosted — to remain eligible for enrollment.

The school is also mandating that students get a negative COVID-19 test at the beginning of each week in order to come to class.

Collegiate is increasing student testing each week and updated its masking policy.

Horace Mann School in the Bronx will be providing COVID-19 tests to children before classes begin.
James Messerschmidt

“Masking continues to be required, yet cloth masks are no longer sufficient during this highly transmissible Omicron surge,” said head of school David Lourie, who noted that there were 23 cases reported among students and staff over the winter break. “Everyone must wear a medical-grade disposable mask, such as an N95, KN95, KJ94 or a surgical mask.”

Collegiate will also “expedite” lunch to minimize the amount of time students take off their masks in order to consume their food.

Exterior of Collegiate School, located at 301 Freedom place, Manhattan.
The Collegiate School in Manhattan plans on shortening lunch breaks when students are allowed to remove their masks.
Robert Miller

Horace Mann Head of School Thomas Kelly told parents that the Bronx school will offer COVID-19 tests to kids on Sunday and Monday at the school before classes resume on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of teachers unions have pressed to transition to remote learning due to the coronavirus resurgence.

Chicago’s teachers union has threatened to strike if officials don’t agree to implement remote learning and to increase recurrent testing.

A woman and a child wear masks in Manhattan during the outbreak of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
Collegiate School head David Lourie says students must wear a “medical-grade disposable mask” to stop the Omicron variant from spreading.
Stephen Yang

A total of six New Jersey districts will have kids learning from home when classes resume next week.

The city announced new testing protocols for students this week — but incoming Mayor Eric Adams has said that he doesn’t foresee closing schools or switching to remote learning.