New York State School Boards Association

Advocacy Update: DOH Releases Emergency Regulations on Medical Exemptions

August 20, 2019

Last week, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) released emergency regulations intended to strengthen the approval process for issuing medical exemptions for immunizations required to attend school. These regulations provide specific, evidence based guidance and required that a form outlining the specific medical reasons for the exemption be filled out and submitted to DOH annually.

In addition, the DOH, along with the State Education Department (SED) and Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), have issued a third frequently asked question (FAQ) document with information on immunizations for students with disabilities, home schooled students and applicability for pre-school students. The FAQ expressly states that unimmunized students without a medical exemption may not be transported with other students, and students who are home schooled may not audit classes unless they are immunized.

Final Public Charge Rule Adopted

Last week the Department of Homeland Security posted its final version of the public charge rule in the Federal Register. This proposal, which NYSSBA opposed and submitted comments against, makes a number of changes to items that can be considered in future determinations of an individual's immigration status. Some of those factors include establishment of an income threshold and an expansion of the types of public benefits received by an individual or family that would negatively weigh against a determination as to whether or not that individual would be able to extend or advance his or her immigration status. While school meal programs are exempt from the rule, families who fear future reprisals may not take advantage of needed benefits and services for themselves and their children, including Medicaid and SNAP. This could both directly impact school district Medicaid funding and result in students not having access to programs and services they need. Additionally, pulling SNAP eligible students out of this food assistance program could affect school districts' federal reimbursement levels and jeopardize certain schools' ability to continue providing free lunch to all students through the Community Eligibility Provision. NYSSBA will continue to call on Congress to take action to overturn this rule and protect students and school districts. NYSSBA's comments on this rule change can be accessed below.

Stop Arm Camera Bill Signed by Governor Cuomo

Earlier this month, Governor Cuomo signed chapter 145 of the laws of 2019, which authorized municipalities to enter into memorandums of understanding with school districts to install stop arm cameras on school buses. Under the new law, districts do not have the authority to install the cameras themselves, and have to work through municipalities and their law enforcement agencies to install and operate the cameras. Please let us know if your district is moving ahead with the program by contacting Belinda Heckler at

NYSSBA's Governmental Relations team will continue to report on these and other issues. For more information, visit our Key Issues Page

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