New York City implements back-to-school school safety agent, optional face mask policy

As thousands of students return to classrooms, the new school year will bring many new changes across New York City.

Parents, students and teachers spoke to News 12 over the summer and had a lot on their minds about returning to school, from COVID-19 and monkeypox to gun violence.

Today also marks the first day of 200 new school safety agents on campuses in the city.

School principal David Banks said Wednesday that the Department of Education will deploy 850 school police officers throughout the school year, including those starting today.

The history of school safety agents is complicated, but principals say they are just a small part of keeping students safe in schools. This year, children and parents can also expect organizations to engage against gun violence in their school communities through a new initiative called Project Pivot.

Masks are optional for students this year as well. Students do not need the COVID-19 vaccine unless they participate in sports or certain extracurricular activities.

Students can return to school as little as five days after testing positive. In these cases, they will be required to wear masks, but the entire class will not be sent home and quarantined.

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