We understand that there have been some questions and concerns surrounding the COVID screenings in schools. We hope to be able to answer some of those questions and ease some of those concerns with the information below.
On December 10, 2020, Governor Cuomo announced new metrics by which micro-cluster focus zones will be determined to help control COVID-19 spread and protect hospital capacity. There are 3 zones: yellow, orange, and red. For more information on cluster zones are categorized, please visit this website: https://forward.ny.gov/cluster-action-initiative
If our area meets the metrics to be designated as a “yellow zone” there are certain regulations schools must adhere to. Taken from Interim Guidance on Mandatory COVID-19 Testing in Public and Non-Public Schools Located in Areas Designated as “Yellow Zones” Under the New York State Cluster Action Initiative, “schools in yellow zones must test 20% of in-person students, faculty and staff over the two-week period immediately following the announcement of a yellow zone designation. If the results of the testing reveal that the positivity rate among the 20% of those tested is lower than the yellow zone’s current 7-day positivity rate, testing at that school will no longer be required to continue. A positivity rate in a school that is lower than in the yellow zone is a sufficient demonstration that in-person instruction is not a significant driver of local viral spread.”
If we do not have the required 20% of students, faculty, and staff who consent to testing and are in the yellow zone, we would have to remain in our remote learning model.
Testing kits have been provided from the state to the Ulster County Department of Health for all school districts in the county.
For more information on how the screening procedures will work in our schools we sat down with Kingston City School District COVID Resource Coordinator, Naomi Stevens, a Registered Nurse at Kingston High School. Naomi, along with all of our school nurses received training to perform the COVID Screening on students from the Ulster County Department of Health at the BOCES center in New Paltz.
How is the COVID Screening done?
We will use a nasal swab – like an extra-long Q-tip – in each nostril. We will insert the swab just inside the nose and do 5 circles in each nostril. This test is minimally invasive.
How long does it take for results and how will parents be notified if a student is positive?
The kits we are using will be rapid test kits. The results come back in about 15 minutes. If your child has a positive test, they will be sent to the isolation room and the parent or guardian will be notified right away. The student will need to be picked up and taken home. A copy of the results will be provided to the parent and will also be faxed to the child’s primary care physician.
If your child’s test is negative, a copy of the results will be mailed home.
You will be notified that your child was selected to be screened on the day of their screening with a letter in their backpack.
Is there a cost for testing?
Testing in schools is absolutely free. There is no cost to families, and we will not ask for any insurance information.
Where will my child be tested?
All students will be screened in their home schools in a room designated for this purpose. A registered school nurse from the district will screen students. All schools will remain staffed with a school nurse throughout the testing process.
What will happen if my child gets nervous and can’t cooperate with the nurse giving the test?
The first thing the nurse will try is to hold the child’s hand to calm them down. A nurse will not force a child to get the screening done. If a student is really having a hard time with the screening the nurse will send them back to class and possibly try another time.
Are parents allowed to come to the school while their child is being tested?
No. With the COVID safety guidelines and protocols we must limit the number of visitors to the buildings.
How will the students to be screened be selected?
We will select the 20% of students from the list of in-person students with parental consent. Names will be put into a computer program that will choose a random 20% to be screened. A student will only be screened a second time if the pool is not large enough to select an entire new group of students to be screened, if it is necessary. A second screening will not be done within the same 1 month time frame.
Can my child give the test to themselves?
No. A certified and trained nurse must administer the test.
Will I be obligated to have my child tested somewhere else if I don’t consent to the school screening?
No, you are not obligated to have your child tested at all. If you choose to have them tested elsewhere, we can accept those results as part of our 20%, if the test was done in the same timeframe as required by the county testing zones. The results of the test would need to be sent to your student’s school.
For additional information on testing and to fill out the electronic consent form, please click HERE
The video below will give more information on screening procedures.