Mandatory COVID Testing Plan Under the Yellow Microcluster Zone
November 25, 2020
Dear Hastings Families,
We finally made it to a moment where I hope families can take a deep breath and enjoy some time together that doesn’t involve the use of Zoom or Google Meet, unless it is to connect with loved ones you are not able to see in person. Please fill the next few days with family games, a good book, long walks and hikes, hobbies, funny movies and a few naps. As a reminder, please review the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to safely celebrate Thanksgiving.
As you know, Governor Cuomo adopted a microcluster initiative which replaced the 5% infection rate metric used in July, 2020 to determine when to close schools in communities with high COVID infection rates. This three color microcluster system (yellow, orange and red) will be used to determine if schools can remain open or must close. The yellow zone, which is the precautionary zone, requires school districts to establish a plan to conduct rapid testing of 20% of children, faculty and staff in school over a two week period. This type of rapid antigen testing, called surveillance testing, is used to detect active infections. Hastings is close to several communities that have either been designated as yellow zones or are getting close. The Westchester County Department of Health will notify me if we are designated and I will start the process of securing the rapid test kits provided to districts free of charge. Our plan for mandatory COVID testing, if designated, is outlined below.
What Type of Test is Used and Who Needs to be Tested?
- The New York State Department of Health provides us, free of charge, with the rapid BiNax Now test kit made by Abbott. The information for ordering the test kits has been provided to the District.
- The test kit contains a nasal swab and a liquid solution. Both nostrils are swabbed and the swab is treated with the liquid solution in the kit to determine the result. The result of the test is available in 15 minutes. One line on the swab indicates a positive result and two lines on the swab indicates a negative result.. However, no one will be allowed to wait for their test result. A nurse will call those whose result is positive. One’s test result may also be available by downloading an App.
- Our test sample of 20% are students who are learning in-person, faculty and staff. Approximately 16-17 students per grade level or a total of 220 students will need to be tested. Approximately 60-65 faculty and staff members across the District will need to be tested.
Who will administer the test?
- Our four Registered Nurses, Ms. Joanne Cipollina, Ms. Gina Kowalski, Ms. Donna Morin Doyle and Ms. Patricia Fenny, along with 4-5 substitute Nurses, will administer the test.
- The NYSDoH provided the training module for our Nurses instructing them on how to administer the rapid test.
- Our Nurses have the appropriate PPE needed to safely conduct the testing.
- Bio-waste containers will be provided for proper disposal of the used swabs.
- The two Nurse Offices ensure privacy and will be disinfected hourly.
- Test results will not be shared on-site. Within 30 minutes after the test is administered, a Nurse will contact the family, faculty or staff member by phone to inform them of a positive result. The recommendation will be to follow up with your health care provider to schedule a Molecular PCR test and quarantine for 14 days.
Where will the testing be conducted?
- The Westchester County Department of Health will cover districts under their Limited Service Laboratory (LSL) agreement which gives us permission to conduct testing in school.
- The test site for the three schools is the Nurse Offices in the Farragut Complex. The entrance and exit will be marked and staff will be on hand to assist parents.
- The registration location will be the Blue Lecture Room, which is the location where Board of Education Meetings are held when in person. Staff will be on hand to ensure masks are worn and social distancing is practiced.
- Clerical staff will assist families and provide escorts to the Nurse Offices for the test.
- After the nasal swab, the family, student, faculty or staff member will leave. If the test result is positive, a Nurse will contact the family, faculty or staff member by phone within 30 minutes of the test.
- Custodians will be present to keep all spaces clean. As stated earlier, the Nurse Offices will be disinfected hourly.
Is parental consent needed?
Parental consent is required. Please complete this parental consent form by Monday, November 30 and scan it to your child’s Nurse:
Who accompanies the student to the Farragut Complex to take the test?
- A parent or guardian must accompany a child in grades K-8 to take the test. Siblings can come together during the same appointment but no other children will be permitted if they are not taking the test.
- High school students may take the test without a parent present but a consent form must be completed.
When will the testing be conducted?
- Testing will start shortly after we are notified we have been designated a yellow microcluster. Testing will take place within two time frames: 7:30 am-10:00 am and 3:00 pm-6:00 pm until we have reached our required 20% testing level. The 7:30 am-10:00 am option is the result of a delayed school opening which may be needed several times within a week.
- Since testing is required for two weeks, the students, faculty and staff will be tested once. A new group of students, faculty and staff will be tested the second week. Again, only those learning in person will be tested.
Do I need to make an appointment for my child’s test?
- Appointments are required and a scheduling tool will be shared with families to sign up for the 10-15 minute appointment.
I know this plan must sound overwhelming. Our Nurses are trained professionals who have dedicated their lives to the care and safety of children. If you have any questions about our COVID testing plan, please feel free to contact Ms. Gina Kowalski, R.N., at Hillside Elementary School by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and Ms. Joanne Cipollina, R.N., at Farragut Middle School & Hastings High School by email at email@example.com. I am also happy to answer your questions.
Regardless of what may have happened since March, 2020 when schools first closed, we all have many things to be thankful for and this is the season to reflect on the generosity, gratitude, compassion, empathy, assistance and care that you have received or provided to others. While we are not out of the COVID woods yet, there are signs of better days ahead.
Thank you for your continued patience, cooperation and flexibility. We appreciate your support of our schools.
I wish all of you a happy, peaceful and safe Thanksgiving holiday.
Valerie Henning-Piedmonte, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools