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School districts offer COVID test kits ahead of mid-winter break

“This is not a mandate or anything like that"
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Posted at 6:11 PM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 18:11:32-05

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Many students across the Western New York community will be on mid-winter break starting next week.

School districts are in the process of handing out take home rapid COVID test kits this week to families who want them.

School families are being encouraged to test children before they return to school after their break.

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Matthew Bystrak, superintendent, West Seneca Central School District.

“This is not a mandate or anything like that. It's not a requirement. Basically, the governor indicated that she wanted to make tests available to families,” remarked Matthew Bystrak, superintendent, West Seneca Central School District.

Take home test kits will be handed out to West Seneca School District students in grades K-through 8 starting Thursday.

A message, issued by West Seneca Superintendent Bystrak, says parents should check their child's backpack. High school students will also bring home the tests Thursday and Friday.

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West Seneca Twitter message.

Governor Kathy Hochul recently called on districts to send home the kits in to avoid outbreaks similar to ones seen after the holiday break.

Hochul says she would determine if the mask mandate will be removed in schools by early march.

“I think we're nearing that point where we really should be talking about what it's going to look like when the mandates no longer in place,” Bystrak remarked.

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Brian Graham, superintendent, Grand Island Central School District.

“I think we're ready to lift that mandate and we think that our schools are safe,” responded Brian Graham, superintendent, Grand Island Central School District.

Superintendent Graham school says in his district school families picked up 900 kits distributed this past weekend at the schools.

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Home test kits.

“But I think it's also emblematic of families still very interested in picking up test kits and making sure that their kids and the members of the family don't have COVID,” explained Graham.

In the Cleveland Hill Union Free School District, Superintendent Jon MacSwan tells me rapid tests are being sent home Thursday with every student.

Families are asked to test children before they return to class on February 28th.

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Cleveland Hill Union Free School District Superintendent Jon MacSwan.

“I believe that these tests, that we'll be administering over the break and immediately following, will support that and hopefully lead to a little more normalcy here at school,” noted MacSwan.

All three district leaders tell me COVID infection numbers continue to drop at their respective schools and they're hoping this will be the metrics for ending face masks in schools.

“Now our numbers are really very good, in fact I’ve only heard of one case in the district this entire week,” MacSwan replied.