COVID-19 Updates & Information - Brooklyn Prospect Charter School

COVID-19 Updates & Information

Updated May 20, 2022: Prospect Schools has been tracking COVID-related news, data, and public health advisories, including the recent upward trend in cases in NYC. Earlier this week the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene raised the city’s threat level to High, and recently Mayor Adams announced that the City’s health officials are strongly recommending that all individuals wear masks in indoor settings. We follow the guidance of public health authorities, and right now these authorities are encouraging – but not mandating – indoor mask wearing.  

Therefore, we highly encourage the use of high grade masks (N95, K95, KF94) indoors, but are not yet requiring this measure.  

We will continue to closely monitor public health guidance should there be any changes recommended.

View Our 2022-2023 Reopening Plan

Masking at School

  • Are masks mandatory?

    No. As of March 14, 2022, masks will be optional for students and staff at schools.
  • How will we continue to keep our school community safe if we are removing the mask mandate?

    When navigating difficult decisions throughout the pandemic, we have followed these two guiding principles: -We will do everything we can to keep our schools operating in-person for students and families. -We will do everything we can to ensure the safety of our entire community.

    These guiding principles lead to our implementing a variety of layered mitigation strategies in our schools, and these will continue to remain unchanged. Some of these include weekly student testing for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, offering weekly testing for staff, increased ventilation, among others. All of the safety measures we have implemented are drawn from the guidance of public health authorities.
  • If students are considered close contacts, do they have to mask?

    Following public health guidance, the only condition under which an individual will be required to wear a mask would be during days 6-10 after returning from quarantine due to a positive test. We echo the NY Department of Health in strongly recommending that all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask for 10 days following a known exposure.
  • What is the policy for an individual who returns to school 5 days after testing positive? Will they be asked to mask?

    Yes. Individuals will be required to wear a mask during days 6-10 after returning from quarantine due to a positive test.
  • Will the move to mask optional impact contact tracing and notification procedures after a positive case?

    No. All of our other health and safety practices will continue to remain unchanged, including how we respond to positive cases in the school. Contact tracing and notifications will continue to happen as they have been.
  • We live in a household with immunocompromised individuals. How can I mitigate this increased risk of exposure?

    If you or a family member are at high risk for severe illness, the CDC recommends that family members wear a high filtration mask in public spaces.
  • I am concerned about this change in masking policies. Will you offer a remote or hybrid option for students?

    We believe deeply in the importance of in-person learning to implement our educational programming. We will not be offering a hybrid or remote learning option for students.
  • I want to make sure my child continues to wear a mask at school. How will the school enforce this expectation with my student?

    We deeply believe in any family’s right to choose whether their student should engage in mask wearing. Ultimately, our educators will not be able to monitor which students should wear a mask throughout the school day. Please have this conversation with your child to ensure they understand your family’s expectations for mask wearing during school.
  • My child is being bullied for our masking choice. What should I do?

    In preparation for this policy change, our school culture teams have been thoughtfully developing advisory lessons and the creation of spaces to have conversations with our community about the change to optional masking. As usual, bullying should be reported to the school culture team to ensure we are addressing these concerns immediately.
  • Will the new mask policy apply to other school events and family functions?

    Yes, the new masking policy applies to all school functions and events.
  • Will there be an update to the vaccine mandate for After School Programming at Elementary & Middle Schools? What about the test-to-participate program at the High School?

    No, we are not changing our other health and safety policies at this time. If/when conditions or public health guidance indicate, we will consider changes to our current policies, linked on this page.
  • Will we ever go back to mandatory mask wearing in schools?

    We will continue to monitor conditions and case data at our schools and in our larger community. If/when public health guidance indicates, we will consider changes to our current policies regarding masking mandates. We also reserve the right to reinstate a mask mandate at any point in the future.

Quarantine Policy

  • What is Prospect Schools' quarantine policy?

    Based on guidance from the NYS Department of Health (NYSDOH), our quarantine period will now be 5 days (effective Friday, Jan 14). This means that anyone who tests positive for COVID will be able to return on day 6 provided the following:

    (1) The individual must be asymptomatic OR have mild symptoms only, meaning: They must be fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication; they must not have a runny nose; and/or, they must have only a minimal cough (i.e. not coughing up phlegm) ; symptoms must be improving or mild.

    Further, any unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individual who was previously on a 10-day quarantine due to being a close contact will also be able to return on Day 6.

    Please review this presentation for full details

    We continue to define a close contact as “someone who has been within 6 feet for 10 or more minutes over a 24-hour period of someone who has COVID-19 during their infectious period.” Please note that this definition may change.

  • Does Prospect Schools do "Test To Stay"?

    Yes. Test to Stay is an important new tool available in New York City and State that helps keep students and educators in the classroom. The Test to Stay initiative allows unvaccinated students and staff to avoid quarantine after having been in close contact with a positive case, as long as they test negative and remain symptom free. Learn more about Test To Stay.
  • Will there be guidance/requirements for if a student or staff member is a close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 outside of the school?

    Students or employees who are identified as close contacts outside of school must follow quarantine guidelines.
  • Will there be a quarantine period after school breaks?

    No. After any extended school break, we will conduct our routine randomized on-site testing for all unvaccinated students. Based on the public health landscape, we may also determine if additional testing is needed.

    We encourage all families to take an antigen COVID test (Rapid or PCR) 3-5 days after travel, regardless if the student is randomly selected for on-site testing. Should any student test positive for COVID, the School Operations team should be notified immediately and quarantine guidance followed.

  • My child is not a close contact, but I want them to quarantine anyway. Is that possible?

    If your child does not meet the requirements for quarantine and you choose to keep them home, it will be marked as an unexcused absence.
  • What would the threshold be for a class (or the school) to quarantine?

    School and class closure decisions are made in collaboration with our senior leaders and the DOHMH. The Prospect Schools (network) would close if a state or federal mandate is issued to close NYC schools.
  • What happens if there is a positive COVID case in my student’s classroom?

    All close contacts will need to follow the appropriate protocols. Please review our quarantine policy for full details.
  • I want my child to quarantine for the full 10 days after exposure, even if they are asymptomatic. Is that possible?

    If your child does not meet the requirements for quarantine and you choose to keep them home, it will be marked as an unexcused absence.

Vaccination

  • Are student vaccinations mandatory?

    For some activities. Prospect Schools will implement a vaccine requirement for all students ages 5+ who elect to participate in the following activities:

    All Afterschool & Extracurricular Activities

    All out-to-lunch privileges (out to lunch is a privilege for our middle and high school students [8-12th grade] to go out for lunch nearby school)

    Please note that this requirement is not for the core/ regular day program and students will not be excluded from any core academic classes due to vaccination status.
  • What about employee vaccinations?

    All Prospect Schools employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19. We are pleased to share that nearly 100% of our employees are fully vaccinated (a small percentage have medical/religious exemptions). All paraprofessionals must also provide proof of vaccination.
  • Will families be informed if their child's teacher is one of the teachers that has been exempted from being vaccinated?

    Prospect Schools will not be sharing the vaccination status of individual employees. However, we will be rearranging staffing plans to ensure that unvaccinated individuals have limited interaction with students, especially those who are not yet eligible for the vaccine (younger than 5 years old).
  • I'm reading that due to COVID, families have been neglecting to keep up with other important vaccines which could be quite dangerous. Is there a close look and hard line for those that are not up to date?

    Prospect Schools requires all families to comply with the vaccines required by the state ensuring their child receives the required inoculations. We will continue to monitor and enforce these mandates as usual.
  • Is Prospect Schools aware of whether related service providers are vaccinated? And can that information be shared with the families of their related service providers?

    Related service providers fall under the NYC Department of Education vaccine mandate. Prospect Schools will not be sharing the vaccination status of individuals.

COVID Testing (onsite)

  • Is Prospect Schools testing every student and staff member?

    Prospect Schools will provide free, on-site, rapid testing for a randomly selected percentage of students grade 1-12 on a weekly basis and we strongly encourage all of our families to participate. Following guidance, we are also requiring weekly testing for any unvaccinated or partially vaccinated staff member.
  • How will I find out if my child is a close contact of someone who tests positive?

    The partner laboratory will notify close contacts via email as quickly as possible. For transparency, the school will also notify the entire school community via email if a positive case arises — individual identifying information will not be shared.
  • What is a ‘close contact’?

    The close contact definition is different for adults and for students in the K-12 setting.

    For student to student contact, close contact is defined as: (1) Being within 3 feet of another student for 10 minutes or more, even while wearing face coverings. (2) Being within 6 feet of another student for 10 minutes or more, without face coverings. (e.g. at lunch).

    For adult to adult or adult to student contact, close contact is defined as: (1) Being within six feet of an individual for 10 minutes or more, even while wearing face coverings. (2) Shared a classroom. (3) Or spent more than 10 minutes in an enclosed space similar in size to a typical classroom with a person with COVID-19 during their infectious period, regardless of whether they were wearing a face covering or separated by barriers.

Program & Academics

  • Why is Prospect Schools not offering a remote learning program this year?

    Last year, our entire team put forth a heroic effort to quickly shift to remote learning -- a shift that was necessary, due to the international crisis. But even in spite of our best efforts, this remote program was not comparable to what we are capable of providing students in person. We know all kids, nationally and at Prospect Schools, have been impacted academically and socially — this time also exacerbated disparities between students.

    In the last year we've gotten smarter, better at mitigating the spread of COVID and now have more protection than ever with the vaccines. With these tools and our layered approach to health and safety, we are confident in our ability to open schools safely and contain cases if they occur. We want to provide the world class education that you signed up for when you chose Prospect Schools. For too long already, our students have missed out on the quality in-person academic and social education program we know how to offer.
  • Will there be any travel restrictions this year for the students?

    Following breaks, students are strongly encouraged to submit PCR tests to COVIDtesting@prospectschools.org All staff will be taking COVID tests before returning to school. As the year progresses and the public health environment changes, additional protocols may be implemented.
  • Is there any availability for tech to be sent home for students for homework purposes?

    If we require a shift to fully remote, we will ensure all students that do not have access to tech resources are connected with the tools they need. Currently we offer 1:1 tech to all students in middle and high school, regardless of programmatic impact from COVID-19, and can make those resources available to elementary students as needed.

Beyond The Classroom

  • What safety measures will be in place on the bus?

    The DOE Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT) manages busing. The DOE has mandated vaccines for all staff. Our liaisons tell us that there will be mandatory masking. If you have complaints about situations on the bus, please call OPT at (718) 392-8855 or contact your school office.
  • Why did the daily health screenings go away?

    After careful evaluation of our protocols last year, we found the daily health screenings to be the least effective — urging families to self-monitor continually had a greater impact. Similarly, the CDC no longer recommends temperature screenings or questionnaires at school. This year, in addition to all of the proactive strategies Prospect Schools is putting in place, we are asking families to monitor their students for symptoms, including fever and other common symptoms of COVID. Families should keep their students home if they are sick, and we urge families to get tested for COVID.
  • What should I do if my child or someone in my household tests positive?

  • My child is home sick and I want to get them a COVID test. Does a rapid test work or does it have to be a PCR test?

    All antigen (rapid or at-home) or PCR tests are acceptable — no antibody tests.
  • If families keep students home to get tested for COVID-19 out of precaution, how will this affect their attendance?

    This attendance will be treated the same as in the case for other sickness and should be reported to the school. This would be an excused absence. Parents should submit any results of the COVID test if it is positive.

Social Distancing & Building Protocols

  • How many students and teachers will be in each classroom?

    The safest approach is a multi-layered approach. We have a mask mandate, ventilation/filtration, vaccinated adults, and social distancing. Schools will endeavor to have 3' of distancing whenever possible. When it isn't possible, the other layers act to mitigate risk. The exact number of students in a classroom depends on the school and its building capacity. Please reach out to your school office for more information.
  • Will kids in the same family be in the same class to minimize exposure?

    Our mitigation strategies are focused on the vaccination of our adult community, universal mask wearing, and regular testing, along with additional health and safety practices. At this time, class composition based on household status is not a mitigation strategy we plan to exercise this year.
  • What ventilation measures will be in place?

    Air filtration units have been distributed to all schools. All schools are also strongly encouraged to keep classroom doors open to improve ventilation.

    For those schools without centralized HVAC systems, the combination of opening your windows and doors and using the air filtration systems provides the recommended number of “air turnovers” per hour.

    For those schools with centralized HVAC systems, the filtration systems have been upgraded per CDC guidelines. Although you may experience hot and cold spots, as with any large system, that is not indicative of air flow throughout the building. The HVAC systems are still providing air purification, and the recommended number of “air turnovers” per hour.
  • What cleaning protocols will be in place?

    Every Prospect Schools facility will be regularly and thoroughly cleaned with solvents that eliminate 99% of bacteria and are lethal to COVID-19, with an emphasis on high-contact surfaces and high traffic areas.

    High-contact areas that are cleaned and disinfected regularly throughout the day include: Light switches; Bathroom stall doors & locks; Handrails; Elevators and elevator buttons; Doorknobs and handles; Toilets & bathroom fixtures; Countertops; Water Fountains; Faucets; Table tops.

    All classrooms will be equipped with diluted disinfectant spray and/or wipes and paper towels. In addition to regular cleaning, buildings should be cleaned and disinfected at least once per week.
  • Is hand washing/sanitizing still important?

    Frequent handwashing is an important part of preventing spread of illness. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer will be utilized when hand washing is not available. As has always been the case, handwashing with soap and warm water should be used whenever hands are visibly soiled and after using the bathroom.

Afterschool, Extracurriculars & Events

  • Are student vaccinations mandatory for afterschool & extracurriculars?

    Yes. Prospect Schools will implement a vaccine requirement for all students ages 5+ who elect to participate in the following activities:

    All Afterschool & Extracurricular Activities

    All out-to-lunch privileges (out to lunch is a privilege for our middle and high school students [8-12th grade] to go out for lunch nearby school)

    Please note that this requirement is not for the core/ regular day program and students will not be excluded from any core academic classes due to vaccination status.
  • Will there be sports this year?

    Prospect Schools will have sports this year, per the following guidelines*: Students participating in sports must be vaccinated. First dose must have been received prior to the start of the season. Athletes that are partially vaccinated should test weekly for COVID-19 until fully vaccinated. For league sports, all league rules must be followed, including testing or vaccination requirements. Indoor practices require advance approval by the COO. Spectators are permitted outdoors only. No external chaperones (volunteers) without vaccination.

    *Sports policy may change, per updates in public health guidance.
  • Will trips or events be allowed this year?

    In-person events must be carefully planned, safe, and fun! Limited field trips, indoor and outdoor in-person events are permitted, as long as all guidance is followed. No indoor in-person events should bring together the entire parent/guardian body of more than one grade. No overnight field trips. External chaperones (volunteers) must be vaccinated.
  • Besides high-risk sports, will other activities (such as Robotics or student council) also require student vaccination?

    Beginning January 31, all students in extracurriculars and After School Program must be vaccinated.
  • What protocols will be put in place for afterschool? What are vaccination requirements for afterschool program staff?

    All protocols enforced during the school day will be in place during afterschool. Prospect Schools will be strict in our enforcement of universal masking and our other PS health and safety guidance during afterschool programming. All afterschool partners will also mandate vaccines for their employees. Beginning January 31, 2021, students participating in afterschool or extracurriculars will be required to be fully vaccinated.

Visiting School

  • Are visitors allowed at school?

    Through December, we are not permitting visitors. We will revisit this policy in the beginning of December.

    On a limited basis, volunteers for specific events are permitted, provided they are fully vaccinated and comply with all mask wearing / health and safety requirements. An example would be a guardian chaperone for a class field trip.

    Individuals like related service providers, contractors / vendors, and other third-party personnel critical to our work are also permitted. As they are not our employees, we do not have the ability to require vaccination. However, they must comply with all health and safety guidance at all times.
  • Can families escort their students into their classrooms?

    At the school’s discretion, Kindergarten guardians may accompany students to the classroom when transition support is needed (e.g. WTES, DTES or IES students).
  • What about in-person parent / guardian meetings and other events?

    In-person intake and advisory conferences should be offered, provided full remote options are also offered. We rely on our mitigation strategies to keep our community safe during in-person conferences. These strategies include vaccinated employees and universal mask wearing.

General FAQs

  • How do I contact my school?

    You can find the contact information for your school on our Contact Page
  • I missed a recent parent update. Where can I find it?

    All parent communications from Prospect Schools can be viewed here

Policy Resources

Vaccine Info Webinars

School Food

Starting June 28, 2021 and through the summer, all New Yorkers can receive free “Grab & Go” meals across the city. No registration, documentation, or ID is required. Meals locations are open to children, families, and the general public daily, Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Vegetarian meals are available at all locations, and Kosher and Halal meals are offered at select locations. Locations will be searchable using the online tool, or via the School Food app, beginning June 25.

Find A DOE Meal Hub Near You

Remote Learning Devices

Please contact your school program office if you need a device. The devices are Android A50 phones that come with data access upon request.

If you need assistance with your device, please call the Prospect Schools IT Team at 718.643.1086, ext. 4957 between 9 am – 5 pm.