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Erie County Health Department gives school districts green light to "Test-to-Stay"

"We have lessons learned and we wanna move forward and offer test-to-stay to all of the schools that are eligible.”
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Posted at 1:12 AM, Dec 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-29 01:12:17-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - — Erie County leaders have given local districts the green light to implement “Test-to-Stay” programs in schools.

Based on guidance from the CDC, students who are close contacts to a positive COVID case will be tested each day before school.

An official of the Erie County Health Department, Dr. Gale Burstein, says schools are responsible for ensuring those positive results are tested every day during their quarantine period before heading back to the classroom.

“I think everybody has been waiting to see our students and staff can remain in the classroom,” Dr. Burstein says. “If they don’t have any symptoms of COVID-19 after they’ve been exposed.”

Burstein says schools need to get parents' consent to enroll their students in the program.

The Grand Island Central School District became the first district on Dec.6 of this year as a pilot program on the “Test-to-Stay.”

The superintendent of the district, Brain Graham, says they’ve administered 264 rapid tests. Only two came out positive.

“The 262 negative results into hours of instruction and those hours of instruction equate to 1,572 hours of instruction that allows students to stay in school as supposed to children quarantined at home,” he says.
Graham encourages other school districts to accept the offer of the program.

“Schools in Monroe county their results are similar to ours,” the superintendent says. “So I think that’s why the CDC has looked at that national data and has identified test-to-stay proven strategy to keep kids in school.”

He says if a child is quarantined at home and must attend class, the Grand Island Central School district handles it differently.

“If they’re in Elementary School. We would assign them to a virtual teacher who would provide one hour of instruction each day at the secondary level is two hours of instruction,” Graham says.

Graham adds how families will have more options to choose what’s best for their child.

“We just need to offer families options,” he adds. “Families feel empowered when they have options, so now with test-to-stay is another option.