GRAND ISLAND, NY (WKBW) — The Grand Island School District launched a “Test-to-Stay” program Monday.
Grand Island was selected by the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) to conduct the program.
“This test to stay program is a really great option for families,” stated Brian Graham, superintendent, Grand Island School District.
Many parents across Western New York and some school districts have been requesting “Test-to-Stay” that would allow some students to avoid a lengthily quarantine if they were exposed to COVID.
ECDOH said Grand Island met the following criteria to conduct the pilot program:
- Sufficient number of active COVID-19 cases
- Student populations that would yield a solid set of data
- Ability to offer COVID-19 testing through a Limited Service License
ECDOH is providing the antigen tests through $18-million from a federal grant allocated specifically for school testing and vaccinations.
If an unvaccinated student has been exposed to COVID, but remain asymptomatic, then they will be tested each day, at school, during what would normally be their quarantine time. If the result is negative, the student will be allowed to remain in the classroom and avoid any disruption of their learning.
Before the school day started for students, the Grand Island School District was ready to test any students that had contact with COVID-19.
“We are very excited today. We had 22 students, who came and participated in Test-to-Stay and all 22 were negative,” Graham noted.
Superintendent Graham says that means all 22-students could stay in their classrooms without having to go home and quarantine.
Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein outlined how Test to Stay works during a COVID briefing last week saying as long as a student remains asymptomatic and they're tested every single day during their quarantine period, they can stay in class.
“If they remain asymptomatic and they're tested every single day during their quarantine period, so serial testing before they walk into the classroom. We know what their status is. They will be able to remain in school in the classroom,” remarked Dr. Burstein.
The Grand Island District is contracting with Buffalo Homecare who administers the tests and the county provides the antigen tests from a federal grant.
“In each of our school buildings, we have medical professionals from Buffalo Homecare and we’re using our funds through the federal dollars that we received to help pay for the support from Buffalo Homecare,” Graham said.
But the Grand Island Test-to-Stay pilot program is only for students to remain in school. It is not for sports or after school activities.
“It’s not an option right now to extend it for extra curricular, athletic or fine arts that occur after the school day,” described Graham.
The county health commissioner says they will be reviewing the test pilot program being conducted at the Grand Island schools to see if possibly they can expand it across Erie County.
“We’re going to be looking at our process variables and outcome variables to see if this works. If the school can do it, if this is scalable to the rest of Erie County to see if we will be able to expand this program to keep more students in the classroom,” Burstein stated.