NYS still getting handle on testing at schools

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – There is still much confusion over the reopening with schools, particularly when it comes to testing in schools.

According to the state education department’s reopening guidance, schools should comply with CDC guidance and not conduct a COVID-19 test or require testing of students or staff members. Instead, the state believes that a health care provider or local department of health should decide whether a test needs to be conducted.

Regular testing of students and staff is one way that that can mitigate the spread of the virus. However, there is still uncertainty over who will supply the tests.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said the state’s health department guidance on schools is clear.

“There has to be temperature checks, regular screening, and there has to be a protocol in place if someone does end up testing positive,” she said. “We’re working with the schools and trying to have more broad-based testing capabilities available so, if there’s any symptoms or any concerns, that children can be tested. “

Hochul also said contact tracing will be another element of schools. If a student tests positive, the contact tracers would inform other people they may be at risk of catching coronavirus. That’s why Hochul said one idea is to keep the same students around the same teachers, if possible.

“It will limit the number of children and teachers who are exposed if indeed a case does arise,” Hochul said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday said he won’t allow any school to reopen if there is not a safe environment and suggested it will be up to the parents to decide if their child can attend the school.

The lieutenant governor said that schools should be regularly communicating with parents about reopening and said they should have engaged parents throughout the process.

“There has always been a requirement of social distancing, disinfecting protocols, and making sure masks are worn,” Hochul said. “Schools have known for a while. They should be engaging and should have been engaging parents, teachers, and others involved in this process.”

Hochul said the safety of the children will come before their education.

The state is expected to release additional information about schools reopening sometime this week.