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ECDOH willing to work with districts on test-to-stay programs

Posted at 12:02 AM, Oct 28, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Quarantine guidelines have put a strain on school districts.

“Most school districts spend well over 40 hours per week, typically administrators, reaching out to close contacts,” said Michael Cornell. Cornell is the superintendent of the Hamburg School District. He is also the head of the Erie Niagara School Superintendents Association.

He is calling for a test-to-stay option for schools.

It means, if an unvaccinated student is considered a close contact to someone who test positive for COVID-19, they can be given a rapid test. If it’s negative, the student may stay in school.

Dr. Gale Burstein, the head of the Erie County Department of Health, spoke at a media briefing on Wednesday. She said, she brought up a similar plan before the school year with superintendents.

"We posed the question about test-to-stay option for the schools and there was a very strong push back from Mr. Cornell, especially. He said schools can't do this. It's too much work and shut down the conversation,” said Burstein.

Cornell agrees that it's too much work for an individual school district to take on testing on such a large scale. But he said, given the appropriate resources from the state or county, and test-to-stay is feasible.

“Use some of the $18-million that the county has at its disposal for programs exactly like test-to-stay. So, for us, the real headline is the fact that the county is ready to do those things and we're ready to be partners, as we always are,” said Cornell.

Burstein agreed, working together is the best option. She said, test-to-stay still isn't recommended by the CDC.

“We’re interested in exploring this and we are gathering information right now and hoping that CDC comes out with best practices,” added Burstein.