New York State officials announced new steps to keep residents safe in and out of the classroom for a highly mutated virus.

With the school year starting across New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul announced new steps to keep students and educators safe from COVID-19.

New York State Announces New Steps To Keep Students And Educators Safe From COVID

Digital Team, Drazen Zigic
Digital Team, Drazen Zigic

Gov. Hochul announced the state is making COVID-19 rapid test kits and masks available to all school districts and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services.

“Thanks to the hard work of New York schools, teachers, and parents, we have come a long way to ensure students can safely return to the classroom,” Governor Hochul said. “Frequent testing for COVID-19 is an important part of keeping our kids safe and preventing an outbreak, and I will continue working to ensure our school districts have the resources they need to provide a safe, in-person learning environment for our students.”

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New York Schools Can Request Masks And Rapid COVID Tests

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Schools must request masks and rapid COVID tests.

"This week, the State will conduct outreach to the State Education Department and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) to survey needs for test kits and masks. After the requests have been submitted, New York State will deliver the requested tests and N-95 and KN-95 masks to each BOCES for distribution to school districts," Hochul's office states.

New York State officials are taking these steps due to a new COVID variant, BA.2.86 variant and a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations during the past month.

“As we start the new school year, and once again see an uptick in COVID-19 across the State, I urge all students, teachers and parents to remember COVID tests are easy to use as well as highly accurate. Also know that COVID is a treatable disease. If you have symptoms, get tested. If you test positive, stay home and stay away from other people, especially those who are vulnerable to serious illness," New York State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said.

New COVID Variant Causes New York State To Take Action

Canva / IvelinRadkov
Canva / IvelinRadkov

BA.2.86. is a new, "highly mutated" COVID-19 variant, according to health officials. Experts believe this strain, which is becoming prevalent around the world, has 30 mutations relative to the original COVID-19.

It has a high potential to evade immunity. Officials believe this variant, also called "Pirola" has a higher chance of infecting people who have recovered from COVID or are vaccinated.


Symptoms of the new variant include:

  • Fever
  • Common Cold symptoms
  • Flu-Like symptoms
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Head Ache
  • Body aches,
  • Loss of appetite Conjunctivitis
  • Rashes
  • Diarrhea
  • Breathing difficulties

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Governor Hochul is also advising schools to follow CDC guidance to help protect students in the classroom.

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