Diagnostic Testing and Test to Stay Programs
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Throughout the pandemic, the New York State Department of Health has required all New York State schools to send students and staff home if they were exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 during the school day. They could then return to the school building if they had received a negative COVID-19 test result from an approved laboratory or a doctor’s note stating an alternate diagnosis.
The New York State Department of Health also excludes any unvaccinated (or partially vaccinated) student or staff member from school if they are a close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 within the school setting (classroom, lunchroom, transportation, etc). They are mandated to quarantine at home for five days following their exposure.
Over the last few weeks, The Syracuse Academy of Science and The Syracuse Academy of Science and Citizenship Academy School Districts have been given an abundance of rapid antigen tests from New York State. In December the school district was approved for a Limited Service Laboratory license putting the district in a unique position. Starting February 28th, 2002 both school districts will be able to test symptomatic students and staff (diagnostic testing) during the school day, as well as participate in the New York State Department of Health Test to Stay Program.
Using rapid antigen tests, students who develop a symptom or symptoms of COVID-19 during the school day can report to the Nurse’s office to be tested. If the test result is negative, the child may return to class if the nurse feels they are well enough. If the result is negative, but the nurse feels the child isn’t well enough to be in school, they will still be sent home. Any student that tests positive will remain in the isolation room until they are dismissed with their parent/ guardian. All positive cases will need to be picked up within 45 minutes of the test result. Under no circumstances will a child be given a COVID-19 test at school without signed consent.
It is important to understand that although the school district has the ability to test students and staff with COVID-19 symptoms, it is not permitted to knowingly send sick children to school. If your child is sick at home, please keep them at home. Students arriving at school sick will be sent home as per school policy and will not receive a rapid antigen test.
Test to Stay
Test to Stay is a Program in which students that are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated (including those that are eligible for booster shots) may participate if they have been designated a close contact of someone that tests positive for COVID-19 at school. This could be a classroom, lunchroom, or transportation contact. As long as these individuals remain asymptomatic, wear well-fitting masks, and maintain proper social distancing, they may come to school using their normal mode of transportation. Upon arrival, they will need to take a rapid COVID-19 antigen test in the nurse’s office for the remainder of their five-day quarantine. Students doing Test to Stay may also participate in their after-school extracurriculars as long as it doesn't involve children from other schools. Once the student leaves school they should quarantine at home following NYSDOH quarantine guidelines.
The tests being used for both the Diagnostic Testing and Test to Stay Program are rapid antigen tests. Results are read in 15 minutes. They use a nasal swab to collect the sample. These are less invasive than others in that they are not designed to go deep into the nasal cavity. The school nurse or trained school personnel will be conducting the testing. Results of tests (positive and negative) will be reported each day to New York State.
Under no circumstances will any student be diagnostically tested for COVID-19 or for Test to Stay without signed parental consent. Test to Stay and Diagnostic Testing have two different consent forms. Please make sure to complete each form if you wish for your child to participate in testing.
We hope that these changes have a positive impact on students and their families. As always we appreciate your flexibility as we navigate through this ever-changing pandemic. Please feel free to reach out to the School Health Office with any questions or concerns.