Important Information about School-based COVID-19 Testing in Designated “Yellow Zones”…

Written by on December 15, 2020

December 14, 2020

Dear Shenendehowa Community, 

Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced his Micro-cluster Initiative in dealing with COVID-19. When a region moves to the “Yellow Zone,” schools will be required to test 20% of in-person students and staff to remain open for in-person instruction. The Shenendehowa Central School District is preparing for this possible scenario. The district is working closely with the Saratoga County Public Health Department to complete the required process to conduct the COVID-19 Rapid Test, if it becomes necessary.  

PLEASE NOTE, SHEN IS NOT CURRENTLY IN A DESIGNATED ZONE FOR TESTING. WE ARE ONLY PREPARING.

Please watch this video for an explanation of the school-based testing program at Shenendehowa: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4RdR4GotvY

Schools in a designated Zone are required to test a percentage of in-person students, teachers and staff, as prescribed, for as long as the school remains in a designated Zone. The Shenendehowa Central School District is seeking your consent to test your child for COVID-19 infection using the New York State Department of Health approved BinaxNOW COVID-19 Rapid test. The use of a Rapid COVID-19 test would only occur if any school in the District falls within a Yellow, Orange, or Red Zone designation. 

To help us prepare for testing, should any of our instructional sites be designated as a “yellow zone”, please consider giving consent by filling out the Consent for Rapid COVID-19 Testing form, which will be emailed to you starting on Wednesday, December 16. Please note that you will receive a daily email until you complete the form, either giving consent or denying consent. Even if your child is attending virtually or you are working virtually, we would like you to complete the form. We appreciate you completing the form by Monday, December 21, 2020. 

If you consent, each student and staff may be randomly selected to receive a free diagnostic test for the COVID-19 virus for as long as the school remains in a designated Zone. The test will be administered under the supervision of a trained medical professional or staff.  Collecting a specimen for testing involves inserting a small swab, similar to a Q-Tip, into the front of the nose.  We are in the process of developing the best strategy to test a large number of individuals. All efforts will be made to make it as convenient as possible, with times potentially scheduled during the school day, after school, or on a weekend. 

If a student or staff member has a specimen collected for testing at school, we will notify you the same day if the result is positive and provide follow-up instructions. If a student tests positive for COVID-19, your child will be isolated from classmates and supervised until you are able to pick up your child from school. If a staff member tests positive, said individual will be directed to leave the school site immediately.

In the case of any positive tests, we will ask you to contact your doctor immediately to review the test results and discuss what you should do next. In such a case, staff/students should stay home and wait to be contacted by the Shen COVID Coordinator or the Saratoga Public Health Department for contact tracing and quarantine/isolation instructions. 

If the result is negative, this means that the virus was not detected in the specimen. Tests sometimes produce incorrect negative results (called “false negatives”) in people who have COVID-19. If someone tests negative but has symptoms of COVID-19, a confirmatory COVID-19 PCR test may be requested.

Testing is not mandatory and no one will be excluded from school or work because they choose not to be tested.  However, if we do not receive consent from at least 20% of students and staff, we would likely be forced to shift to fully remote instruction. 

We will keep you informed of any developments and specific plans for COVID-19 testing should the district be designated as a “yellow zone”.  In the meantime, please continue to follow all health and safety precautions in your daily activities to help stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Committed to Excellence,

Dr. L. Oliver Robinson

Superintendent of Schools