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New York City Department of Education relaxes COVID-19 rules for public schools

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(NEW YORK) -- The New York City Department of Education will no longer randomly test students for COVID-19 when the new school year begins Sept. 8, the department said Tuesday.

Instead, test kits will be sent home for students, parents and teachers to use if they are exposed to the virus.

As part of the department's new COVID-19 protocols, students will no longer be required to submit a daily health screening form.

Masks will no longer be required but are strongly recommended if or when a student is exposed.

The department said that students and staff who test positive or exhibit symptoms must quarantine for five days and then wear a mask on the sixth through 10th day upon their return to school.

Masks are also required when entering a medical office in a school or exhibiting coronavirus symptoms.

Schools are now required to report positive cases to "The Situation Room," a group within the department that tracks COVID-19 cases within the schools.

Recent New York City Education Department data shows that between Sept. 13, 2021 and Aug. 15, 2022, there have been over 250,000 positive COVID-19 cases within the schools, with students making up 190,301 of those cases.

New York City schools will still require all adults, including teachers and contracted employees, entering public school buildings to be vaccinated, the department said. Any other adult entering a building must show proof of at least one vaccination dose.

Students will still not need to be vaccinated to attend classes but will once again need to show proof of vaccination to participate in extracurricular activities, including high-risk public schools athletic league sports.

The city's department of education will distribute over 160,000 air purifiers to schools, track ventilation in buildings daily and upgrade HVAC systems aligned with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Last week, the CDC laid out new guidance regarding COVID-19 as millions of students return to school.

Some rules include: unvaccinated kids no longer having to quarantine; test-to-stay, which allows students who are in contact with someone who has COVID-19 to continue to attend in-person school as long as they stayed asymptomatic and tested negative; and loosening the 6 feet social distancing requirement.

"We're in a stronger place today as a nation, with more tools -- like vaccination, boosters, and treatments -- to protect ourselves, and our communities, from severe illness from COVID-19," the CDC's Dr. Greta Massetti, one of the authors of the updated guidance, told ABC News in a statement last week. "This guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives."

ABC News' Katie Kindelan contributed to this report.

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