Essential Personnel

The information below was provided by the  NYS Education Department

At this time the Department of Health has not provided NYSED information regarding whether or not school nurses can be considered essential for the purpose of returning to work following exposure to COVID-19. The latest DOH guidance UPDATE to Health Advisory: Revised Protocols for Personnel in Healthcare and Other Direct Care Settings to return to Work Following COVID-19 Exposure dated January 7, 2021, is not permitting any essential workers to return to work following exposure unless they complete the 10-day quarantine. The federal government has made a declaration of who is considered essential personnel, however, states are not required to follow that guidance and NYS has made no declaration at this time except for health care and nursing home employees. (1/19/21)

A local school can deem certain employees essential on an individual basis in consultation with the NYSDOH. 

The Interim Guidance for Public and Private Employees Returning to Work Following COVID-19 Infection or Exposure is referenced in the most current NYDOH document (Return to School page 3) and the NYSED Reopening document page 38.  

Purpose This interim guidance is intended to inform employers as restrictions on private and public sector activities are scaled back in different regions of the state throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency. This guidance is not intended for health care or nursing home professionals, which have separate protocols and guidance for staff to return to work. Specifically, this guidance provides protocols and policies for employees seeking to return to work after a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or after the employee had close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19.

It says:
If an employee has had close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time AND is not experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms, the employee may return to work upon completing 14 days of self-quarantine. However, if such an employee is deemed essential and critical for the operation or safety of the workplace, upon a documented determination by their supervisor and a human resources (HR) representative in consultation with appropriate state and local health authorities, the exposed, asymptomatic employee may return to work so long as the employee adheres to the following practices prior to and during their work shift, which should be monitored and documented by the employer and employee:

  • Regular monitoring: The employee must self-monitor for a temperature greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit every 12 hours and symptoms consistent with COVID-19 under the supervision of their employer’s occupational health program.
  • Wear a mask: The employee must wear a face mask at all times while in the workplace for 14 days after last exposure.
  • Social distance: The employee must continue social distancing practices, including maintaining, at least, six feet of distance from others.
  • Clean and disinfect workspaces: The employer must continue to regularly clean and disinfect all areas, such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, and shared electronic equipment.
  • Maintain quarantine: The employee must continue to self-quarantine and self-monitor for temperature


Page Updated 1/19/21