The New York State Department of Health on Thursday released a 20-page guidance for schools to test for COVID-19 as students and teachers return to the classroom in the coming days — including a weekly testing requirement for unvaccinated school personnel. 

The guidance outlines requirements for teachers and staff to have COVID-19 testing performed at least once a week when a school is in an area identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "as having low, moderate, substantial, or high transmission rates."

Teachers and other school staff can opt out of mandatory testing if they provide documentation of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

"Teachers and staff who work at multiple schools do not need to receive multiple tests; they may use one weekly test result to demonstrate to any number of schools where they work that they have fulfilled this requirement," acccording to the guidance. 

Schools are also required to have the capacity to provide the diagnostic testing for any students, teachers and staff regardless of their vaccination status and community transmission levels for people who are symptomatic or who have been exposed to a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19. 

The testing guidance dovetails with earlier guidances released by the Department of Health and the State Education Department setting rules for universal mask wearing indoors regardless of vaccination status as well as hygiene and cleaning rules.