Weekly Update from the Office of the Superintendent
December 11, 2020
On Tuesday, I announced that we would be bringing our students back to school and moving forward with COVID-19 testing now that the state has released the new guidance for schools in Orange and Red Zones. To summarize:

  • Gr. K-4 students will return to school this Monday, December 14, following the hybrid schedule, and Gr. 2-4 fully virtual (VLA) students will transition to new teachers for Math and ELA instruction
  • Gr. 5-12 students (including Gr. 5-12 special classes) will return to school on Monday, January 4, following the hybrid schedule
  • Friday, December 18, which was originally scheduled as a half-day, will be a full day of instruction
You can review Tuesday’s presentation here: https://youtu.be/_9leHEjq-JQ?t=2010

In today’s edition of the Ken-Ton Weekly Connection, I will provide more details regarding our COVID-19 testing program, which will begin next week. There is a great deal of information to cover, and there are four topics I will address here and in the weekly video update:

  • Overview & Purpose
  • The Test
  • Testing Operations
  • Frequently Asked Questions
OVERVIEW & PURPOSE
We are very excited to resume in-person instruction. Keep in mind, we will always objectively follow the guidance that is given by NYSDOH, ECDOH, Governor's Office and NYSED. As long as the professionals indicate it is safe for in-person instruction, we will always do whatever we can to have students in school. Our focus is to make sure that we are prepared and providing the best instructional model possible. This preparation includes not only procedures in place for in-person learning but that we are also prepared to move to remote instruction if the circumstances dictate such a move.

It is important to understand the purpose of our testing program. We have one objective: Meeting the state’s testing requirements to resume in-person attendance. Under the new Orange Zone requirements, we must test 20% of students/staff every month (10% every two weeks). We will only be testing our students and staff to meet this objective. We are not a medical provider or an alternative to county or state testing. Under no circumstances will we be testing symptomatic individuals. Symptomatic individuals should never be on school grounds. Also, we will not test any students or staff to determine whether they can return to school if they have been ordered to isolate or quarantine. All students/staff must always follow ECDOH guidelines/directives.
THE TEST
For all testing, the district will use the Abbott BinexNOW nasal rapid test. This is a very quick, gentle, simple testing method that is not nearly as invasive as other tests. The test consists of a swab (very similar to a Q-tip) which circles the inside of the very lowest part of the nose. Our nurses have been trained in conducting these tests and ensuring that all quality control measures are followed.

This week, we created two short videos featuring our own students being tested by one of our extraordinary school nurses, Nurse Sharon from Kenmore West. I strongly encourage all of our families to take the time to view one (or both) of the videos. The videos do a wonderful job demonstrating how simple and quick this test is, even for our youngest students. Please consider showing this video to your children. I know COVID-19 testing can be intimidating, but I think these videos will show just how easy and gentle this process is.
TESTING OPERATION
This week, we will focus on the testing operation at the elementary school level, which begins next week. We will also include some information on middle/high school testing (which begins Jan. 4 and will be the focus of a future update) and staff testing.

Elementary School (Gr. K-4) Testing:

With elementary school students returning on Monday, we will need to begin testing our elementary students the week of December 14. For elementary school students only, testing will take place on Wednesdays at their elementary school. We had originally planned to test all students during the school day, but we listened to feedback from many parents who wished to be present as we tested our youngest students. For this reason, parents and guardians will accompany their children.

  • Numbers: We are required to test 20% of students per month (10% every two weeks). Based on enrollment, this ranges from 11 to 23 tests every Wednesday for our elementary schools. No student can be tested more than once every month. It is important to note that, based on the new NYS requirements, schools will need to transition to fully remote learning if there are nine or more positive tests in a school (for sample sizes greater than 300, this would be 3%, but we do not have any schools that would exceed 300 tests under the current Orange Zone requirements).
  • Consent: In order to test a student, we need to have the parent/guardian’s consent on file. We need families to complete the electronic consent form, which was first sent out Nov. 25. Access it at www.ktufsd.org/consent if you have not completed it already. You may change your consent at any time by submitting a new form (only your most recent submission will be considered for each child). We need as many families to consent as possible, because the greater the number of students/staff participating in testing, the less frequently individual students/staff would need to be tested.
  • Sign-Up Process: Testing will take place on Wednesdays at the child’s school beginning Dec. 16. Elementary school parents/guardians will receive a link via text message and email to sign up for a time slot at their child’s school. The sign-up form (through Sign Up Genius) will include available time slots for the four Wednesdays in the testing period. Parents/guardians can only select one time slot per month since students can only be tested once per month. Please keep an eye out for this form. If you have more than one child, you can bring them as well. Click here for a demonstration of how to complete the sign-up form: https://youtu.be/BMW-UGTCMno
  • Procedures:
  • Arrive at your scheduled time and report to Door #1
  • Be prepared to show your driver’s license for the Single Point of Entry Raptor system
  • You will be directed to the Nurse’s Office
  • The nurse will confirm your identity and confirm that we have your consent on file (please be sure you have completed the consent form at www.ktufsd.org/consent)
  • The nurse will conduct the test
  • You will be able to leave immediately after the test is completed
  • Test result will be available 15 minutes following the test
  • If the test result is Negative, you will not be contacted
  • If the test result is Positive, you will be contacted immediately
  • All tests are safely and securely disposed of
  • Data Reporting:
  • The test results and additional required data for students/staff will be uploaded to the NYS Electronic Clinical Laboratory Reporting System (ECLRS) through the NYS Department of Health
  • This will be done manually right away for those who test positive
  • This will be done through a data import at the end of the day for those who test negative

Secondary School (Gr. 5-12) Testing:

Middle and high school students will return to school beginning Jan. 4, so testing for these schools will also begin Jan. 4. Testing will take place in school while the students are in attendance. We will have more information on secondary testing in future updates.

  • Numbers: Based on enrollment, 20% of students per month ranges from 6 to 13 per day (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday) depending on school. No student can be tested more than once a month.
  • Consent: Once again, we need families to complete the electronic consent form (access it at www.ktufsd.org/consent if you haven’t done so already). You may change your consent at any time by submitting a new form (only your most recent submission will be considered for each child).
  • Procedures:
  • Students will be selected for testing using the Random Sample function in Microsoft Excel
  • The student will be called to the Nurse’s Office
  • The nurse will conduct the test (if the student is comfortable and willing) and the student will remain until the test result is available 15 minutes later
  • If the test result is Negative, the student will return to class and come home with a hard-copy notification that he/she was tested and did not test positive
  • If the test result is Positive, the family will be notified right away and the child will be sent home

Staff Testing:

With elementary school students returning to school next week, we will need to begin testing our elementary school staff next week as well. For our middle/high schools, testing will begin Monday, Jan. 4. We will communicate more information directly to those staff who have indicated that they would be willing to participate in staff testing.
  • Numbers: Based on enrollment, 20% of staff per month ranges from 1 to 3 tests per day (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday) depending on the school. No staff member can be tested more than once a month.
  • Consent: Staff participation is optional (staff can indicate that they are willing to participate using the Google Form that was sent via email).
  • Procedures:
  • Staff will be selected for testing using the Random Sample function in Microsoft Excel 
  • If selected, staff will be contacted and asked to schedule a time to be tested in the Nurse’s Office
  • Staff will complete a short Google Form to provide the data required for ECLRS reporting
  • Staff will arrive at the Nurse’s Office at his/her scheduled time
  • The nurse will conduct the test, and the staff member will remain until the test result is available 15 minutes later
  • If the test result is Negative, staff can return to their normal duties
  • If the test result is Positive, staff will be sent home
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do I add/change/withdraw consent?
Complete the electronic consent form at www.ktufsd.org/consent (only your most recent submission will be considered for each child).

Can parents bring siblings?
Yes. A parent/guardian may bring siblings to be tested.

Can I be tested if I am symptomatic, or in order to return from a quarantine/isolation?
No. Symptomatic individuals should never be on school grounds. Testing is 100% random. The District is not a medical provider or clinic providing testing to anyone who is symptomatic for the purposes of diagnosis. Staff and students who are symptomatic are to be referred to their healthcare provider or ECDOH testing site for diagnostic testing.

How often will students/staff be tested?
Students/staff cannot be tested more than once per month.

If I do not consent to testing, can my student still attend school?
Yes. Testing is not required for in-person attendance.

Will Universal Pre-K students be tested?
Because testing is school-based, UPK students at Holmes and Franklin Elementary may be tested. UPK students at Kenmore Middle School will not participate in testing.

Will testing numbers be reported to the community?
Yes. Each week, the total number of tests and positive/negative results will be included in the Ken-Ton Weekly Connection. Please note that only the counts will be reported (no personally identifiable information will be shared).
Thank you for reviewing this information. As always, we remain Ken-Ton Proud, Ken-Ton Strong, and Ken-Ton Moving Forward!

For previous editions of the Ken-Ton Weekly Connection, visit www.ktufsd.org/connection