What are the metrics for a school to be required to perform on-site COVID-19 testing?
The new metrics require schools in counties with a positivity rate of 9% or higher to perform COVID-19 testing in order to keep schools open for in-person instruction. Gov. Cuomo indicated that if the positivity rate within a school is lower than that of its community, the school can remain open for in-person instruction.
What test would be used in schools and who would administer the tests?
New York State is providing school districts with COVID-19 rapid tests. Specifically, they will be providing Abbott’s BinaxNOW COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test, which will be administered only by our school nurse, Tricia Gibbs, to students for whom we have received prior parent/guardian consent. The test involves inserting a small swab, like a Q-Tip, into the lowermost portion of the nostril. This is a quick nasal swab test of both nostrils and is NOT the deep-sinus swab test that is performed at medical facilities.
How do I consent to have my student(s) tested at school?
A testing consent form was sent home with your child the week of Dec. 14. Our testing consent form is also available here. You can fill out the form and scan it back to our health office in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Although the form does not have a box to check off “no testing,” please just write “no” somewhere on the form and send it back to us so we can keep our lists updated and confirmed.
Why is the rapid antigen test being used?
The rationale for using the rapid test instead of the PCR test is that testing will be done on students and staff who are asymptomatic. Rapid tests detect protein fragments specific to the Novel Coronavirus and are non-invasive for students & staff (i.e., not deep-sinus tests). PCR tests detect RNA (genetic material) that is specific to the virus and are the “deep sinus” variety, and they have a longer turnaround time than the rapid test. The rapid test results are available within 15 minutes.
How do you decide which students and staff to test?
Students and staff will be randomly chosen for testing. Students would only be chosen from the group whose parents have already provided consent.
What if I prefer to get my child tested offsite?
You have the option to get your child tested by your healthcare provider or at any testing site. In order for those tests to count toward the school’s data, results need to be provided to your school nurse within a week. If it is your intention to test offsite, please notify the school and indicate when your child will be tested.
If I do not consent to testing, will my student be forced to switch to full remote instruction?
No, your child can continue the in-person learning model as long as we have enough volunteers for testing. However, if we do not have enough volunteers, all students may need to switch full remote instruction.
Can parents/guardians or family members get tested too?
No, we will only have enough tests to accommodate our in-school population.
What happens if a student tests positive?
If your student tests positive while at school, you will be notified immediately, asked to quarantine and follow up with your health care provider for PCR testing. In addition, we will share information with the Rensselaer County Department of Health.