ECDOH outlines plan for COVID-19 testing for schools in micro-cluster zones

Posted at 12:49 PM, Dec 01, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Erie County Department of Health has outlined the plan for COVID-19 testing for schools in micro-cluster zones.

ECDOH says it will provide use of its Division of Emergency Medical Services new Limited Service Lab (LSL) license to schools within micro-cluster zones.

County officials were previously hesitant to take any action that could put its license in jeopardy, the decision was made following extensive internal discussion on how to best support schools.

“The requirement for schools to have access to the Erie County’s LSL in order to perform diagnostic COVID antigen tests raised serious concerns,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “ECDOH is responsible for all diagnostic tests performed under our license. We were hesitant to take any action that could put that license in jeopardy, especially since we use that license for a majority of our diagnostic COVID tests.

“From a practical perspective, we were concerned how schools, which do not typically provide medical services, could carry out these programs safely and with quality results."

Dr. Burstein says the emergency preparedness team has obtained a new LSL and developed a plan to address its concerns and meet the needs of schools.

Officials say ECDOH will allow schools within micro-cluster zones to use its LSL to conduct school-based testing programs once schools confirm they can meet and maintain certai noperational and safety requirements.

The requirements include:

  • Identifying an ordering physician to supervise the testing program.
  • Developing an operational plan to safely test student and staff.
  • Obtaining consent for testing and providing confidential results.
  • Collecting and reporting testing data to New York State Department of Health.
  • Ensuring that medical records are preserved and kept confidential.

ECDOH says schools will order Binax NOW COVID test kits directly from NYSDOH, a rapid antigen test that provides results in 15 minutes. The schools provide the results to students and staff at the site and transmit records of all tests to NYSDOH.