COVID Testing and Consent FAQ
Please note that the answers to the following questions are based on current guidance from NYS. Guidance relative to testing in schools has already evolved and is likely to continue evolving. As a result, the following answers may change in time. In addition, the following is based on our current thinking about how testing will be implemented. This thinking may evolve as we learn more about how many children will be attending school in the coming weeks and which, if any zone we’re determined to be.
Q: What happens if a family does not give consent for a child to be tested.
A: Individual children for whom consent is not received will not be tested at school and may not be excluded from school. If, however, a school is unable to meet its testing threshold, then the school must close for in-person learning for all students. Additionally, a family can choose to have their child tested privately and submit the results to the school (so long as the test can be administered in the required time frame). It should be noted that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find private testing, particularly for asymptomatic individuals.
Q: What type of test will be used?
A: Westchester County DOH (supplied by NYS DOH) is currently providing a nasal swab test. This is a rapid test that produces a result in fifteen minutes. The swab is inserted into the lower part of the nostril. It is not the type of test that some describe as "brain tickling." We understand that these tests are shown to be not as reliable as PCR tests, but they are considered to be an effective tool for the kind of “surveillance” testing of asymptomatic subjects that schools are being required to conduct. If your child is symptomatic, it is always recommended that you seek both a rapid and a PCR test through your personal health care provider.
Q: What is the level of parent involvement in testing and when will testing be conducted?
A: It is most likely that testing will be conducted when school is not in session. Schools that have already begun testing, for example, have used delayed openings to test students and staff. We may instead use our fully-remote, asynchronous day, so as not to further impact instructional time. Families will be asked to bring their children to school at a designated time during the day. We will also have bus transportation available for children who otherwise are unable to get to school. The test takes only minutes to administer and children will return home as soon as the testing is complete. Parents are welcome to be with their children when the test is administered. Tests will be administered by our school nurses who are trained to work with children in all kinds of situations. Our goal in testing this way to keep children spaced apart from one another (both physically and in time spans throughout the day) and to minimize the need for any quarantining as a result of positive tests.
Q: How frequently will schools be required to test and how many students will be tested?
A: This depends on the zone determination as follows:
In a Yellow Zone, 20% of all students and staff must be tested within a two-week window. If the positive rate in the schools proves to be lower than in the surrounding community, testing need not continue.
In an Orange Zone, 20% of all students and staff must be tested each month, with 10% tested on a biweekly basis. Regardless of the results, testing must continue each month until the school is no longer in an orange zone.
In a Red Zone, 30% of all students and staff must be tested each month, with 15% tested on a biweekly basis. Regardless of the results, testing must continue each month until the school is no longer in a red zone.
Q: Is there any differentiation for students who receive special education services?
A: The current guidance makes no distinction among students. Schools are required to test 20% (or higher, depending on zone) of all students and all staff.
Q: How will the schools support children who are nervous?
A: As with any school activity, children will be in a supportive, nurturing environment. Our dedicated staff will work to make this new procedure as comfortable and routine as possible.
Q: Is there evidence that COVID-19 is being transmitted in schools?
A: Department of Health officials have consistently reported that data does not indicated that COVID-19 is being transmitted within schools. Governor Cuomo recently echoed these findings.