ECDOH announces school-based COVID-19 testing programs

Posted at 7:17 PM, Sep 27, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) announced it is coordinating COVID-19 testing for K-12 students and school staff with the support of around $18.5 million in federal funding.

ECDOH says a majority of districts have signed on for the initiative which is designed to "reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission in school settings, and to maximize time that students spend learning in school."

There are two different programs, screening testing and proximate testing, you can find more information on the programs below:

Screening testing, which is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and NYSDOH to be part of a school’s COVID-19 mitigation strategy. This program involves weekly tests of a random sample of a school’s students and staff. Schools working with ECDOH are actively enrolling students in this program now.

Proximate testing, is provided as needed when a classroom has a positive COVID-19 case. Students and staff from those settings who do not need to quarantine under current NYSDOH guidance, but who were present in a classroom with a positive COVID-19 case while that case was infectious, will be offered a COVID-19 PCR test 3-5 days after that exposure.

ECDOH says specimens of a swab from inside the mouth will be self-collected by the student or staff member and medical professionals from Buffalo Home Care, Inc., will supervise the sample collection and transport to Quadrant Biosciences.

The results are expected to be available in one business day to the parent or school staff member through Quadrant Biosciences’ secure smartphone app and web site. ECDOH says its school team will have access to the positive results and will reach out to begin contact tracing for positive cases.

Students must have parental consent to participate in the programs and parents and school staff may sign up here or contact the school’s principal. The programs are free and although health insurance information is requested during sign up it is not required.

COVID-19 is an aggressive and infectious disease, and we are in a position to offer COVID-19 tests proactively for students and school staff. Doing this is part of providing greater protection to our entire community. This initiative works alongside the other mitigation strategies and requirements outlined in the New York State Department of Health’s school guidance.
- Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein