Updated: Jan. 13, 2021
Why is the district preparing to test students and staff for COVID-19?
The state’s micro-cluster strategy, announced this fall, required school-based testing for schools to stay open for in-person learning. More recently, at a press conference on Monday, Jan. 5, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that schools in counties with COVID-19 positivity rates greater than 9% are testing and if their rates are below that of the community, they can stay open.
What type of testing will this be?
Based on existing guidance, the testing will be BinaxNow rapid testing. Testing will be done by a school nurse trained to administer the BinaxNow rapid test, which is a minimally invasive shallow swab test that involves a swab (similar to a Q-tip) going in the front of the nose. More information about the BinaxNOW test can be found here.
Will all individuals who provide consent be tested?
Not necessarily. It may be that a certain percentage of the in-person population needs to be tested. At this time, we are awaiting more detailed guidance, including as it relates to participation requirements.
How are you randomly selecting consenting individuals for testing?
The random selection of consenting individuals to be tested will be done electronically.
What if my child has symptoms of COVID-19? Will they be able to be tested at school?
No. The rapid antigen test that will be used at GCSD will not be used as a diagnostic tool. Students will be screened for symptoms prior to testing. Parents of students who are exhibiting symptoms are urged to contact their child’s health care professional for further evaluation and possible diagnostic testing.
Is there a cost for students or staff being tested on-site?
No. All costs associated with the in-district testing will be covered by the state and district. If you choose to get a COVID-19 test on your own through a different medical provider, you would be responsible for any cost.
Do testing requirements apply to the school or the district as a whole?
Based on current requirements, the percentage of individuals who need to be tested is by the school building and based on the number of individuals who attend that school or work on-site (either daily or in a hybrid format).
Are remote-only students and staff members part of the testing?
No. Remote-only students and employees will not be tested and should not complete the consent form.
What happens if a school does not receive enough consent to be tested?
Depending on guidance from the State, those schools would need to transition to all-remote instruction, based on our current understanding of the state guidelines.
Who will be administering the test?
Testing will be done by a school nurse trained to administer a BinaxNow rapid test.
Where and when will the testing take place?
Testing will take place in a designated area in each school. As soon as we know the timing of the tests we will communicate that information.
Can parents be there while their child(ren) are being tested?
Because of the need to maintain social distancing and limit visitors in school, this will not be possible.
When will the results of the tests be available?
Tests are read 15 minutes after the test is administered.
What happens if the results are positive for an individual?
We will notify the Albany County Department of Health of the positive results and a representative will contact the family to pick up their child and will be advised to follow up with their health care provider.
What happens if I am not contacted about test results?
If your child is tested and you are not contacted with test results, then you can assume the result was negative. We will only contact you if the test results are positive.
How will my child’s personal information be protected?
All personal information will be handled appropriately within the provisions of the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).