Many of you are likely aware of New York State’s Micro-Cluster Action Initiative, where regions of the state are designated Yellow, Orange or Red zones based on the prevalence of COVID-19 in those areas. Each zone designation comes with various restrictions for businesses, gatherings, and schools.
If we are deemed to be in a micro-cluster zone, the state will require we test a specified percentage of all in-person students and staff for COVID-19 over a given period of time. The option to stay open will depend on if we obtain enough voluntary consent for testing, and how our school community’s test results compare to the overall population.
The following questions pertain to the mandatory COVID-19 testing associated with the Micro-Cluster Action initiative.
Q: Why is the district preparing to test students and staff for COVID-19?
A: Based on current trends, it appears possible that our area will be part of one of the state’s designated zones (Yellow, Orange or Red) based on the prevalence of COVID-19. We anticipate zone guidelines continuing to call for schools to test a percentage of students of all grade levels and staff members over a given time period in order to remain open for in-person instruction.
Q: Where will the tests come from?
A: The state will be providing rapid antigen tests through the county.
Q: What type of testing will be administered?
A: If testing is necessary, we would conduct BinaxNow rapid testing, which is a minimally invasive, shallow, mid-nostril swab test that involves a swab (similar to a Q-tip) being placed into each nostril. The testing would be conducted by a trained healthcare professional. Watch Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ricca have a BinaxNow rapid test.
Q: Can parents/guardians have their children tested outside of school?
A: Yes. If we are placed into a color zone, you may contact your primary care physician and have your child tested there. You would need to share the results with the district. Please note: the test needs to take place during the window of time in which the designation was given. You cannot use an old test.
Q: Will everyone who consents be tested?
A: If the district is placed into a colored zone, it’s likely that everyone who has consented will be tested at some point.
Q: Do testing requirements apply to the school or the district as a whole?
A: The percentage of individuals who need to be tested is by district.
Q: Are students and staff members who are all-remote part of the testing?
A: No. All-remote students and employees will not be tested and should not complete the consent form.
Q: Can individuals choose to opt-out of testing because of medical or other concerns?
Q: Will students who are opted out of testing be excluded from in-person learning?
Q: What happens if the families of the required percentage of individuals for each school do not consent to be tested?
A: Those schools would need to transition to all-remote instruction, based on our current understanding of the state guidelines.
Q: Does this mean the district will be continually testing to keep school open?
A: The district will conduct testing on a regular basis as long as it is necessary. According to the latest guidance from the state (released Dec. 4, 2020), schools in a yellow or orange zone will be required to test 20% of their in-person students, faculty, and staff over the course of a month. Schools in red zones will be required to test 30% of in person students, faculty and staff over the course of a month.
Q: When will the testing take place?
A: At this time, we believe testing will take place in the morning, but it may extend to the afternoon.
Q: Where will testing take place?
A: Testing will take place in a designated area in each school.
Q: Can parents be there while their child(ren) is being tested?
A: Because of the need to maintain social distancing and limit visitors in school, this will not be possible.
Q: When will results of the tests be available?
A: Individual results for the minimally invasive, short-swab nasal tests are read 15 minutes after the test is administered.
Q: Who will see the results?
A: The results will be sent to the state and county departments of health, as well as the parent/guardian.
Q: If a student or staff member is selected for the first round of testing, what are the odds they will be selected for the second round?
A: Students/staff will be tested on a rolling basis. We will test a different pool of students/staff each round of testing.
Q: What happens the results are positive for an individual?
A: We will notify the family and the student will go home from school and will be referred for follow-up with their medical provider. In the event of positive results, we will follow our current protocols for isolation and will work with the local department of health regarding contact tracing and quarantining.
Q: What happens if I am not contacted about test results?
A: Then you can assume the result was negative.
Q: What happens if I think my child’s test results are a false positive?
A: Your child will be asked to isolate and get a PCR test.
Q: What happens if a student or staff member has a negative PCR and a positive rapid test? Can my child return?
A: No. They will be asked to continue following isolation procedures for a minimum of 10 days.
Q: Will my child’s personal information be handled appropriately within the provisions of the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act?