The New Paltz Central School District unveiled its voluntary Test-to-Stay program last week, which allows unvaccinated, asymptomatic close contacts exposed in a school setting to remain in school by testing negative twice over a specified five-day period.
The district’s plan uses protocols adopted by the Ulster County Department of Health and devised by the New York State Department of Health. Superintendent Angela Urbina-Medina explained the program during a meeting of the Board of Education held on Wednesday, January 19.
“We’ve set up a means within the parent portal for parents to sign off on permission to participate in the testing program,” Urbina-Medina said. “Parents would have to facilitate the test of their child two times during the five-day period…The screenshot of the negative test would be sent to the building principals and assistant principals. If the test is positive, the student stays home. Vaccinated or unvaccinated, any positive cases have to stay home.”
Families will not have to pay for home test kits to participate, and individual rapid tests are sent home with any student who wishes to participate in the program.
“There’s no cost to parents at all,” said Urbina-Medina. “We have received additional tests just recently today, so we have a sufficient number of tests so that we’ll be able to make sure that any parent who wishes their child to participate, we will have that available.”
Other key points of the Test-to-Stay program include:
– All positive test results must be reported to the principal or assistant principal of the student’s school, as well as the Ulster County Department of Health.
– Students participating in the Test-to-Stay program are allowed to ride school buses with proper masking, but must remain quarantined outside of school instruction during the five-day period. That includes all community activities and extracurricular clubs.
The announcement followed what Urbina-Medina called “a flurry of guidance” from the county, state and Centers for Disease Control about changes in isolation and quarantine. Among those are a reduction in quarantine time for students and staff to a minimum of five days provided that symptoms are improving. Contact tracing is also no longer required and is up to each individual school district; New Paltz is still planning on notifying parents of a child’s exposure to a positive case.
“Remember that this is guidance,” said Urbina-Medina. “If you’re still sick beyond the five-day period, we encourage you to stay home.”
Since the start of the school year, the NPCSD has had 198 of its 1,898 students test positive for COVID-19, along with 36 teachers and 13 other staff members. New Paltz High School has seen the highest numbers among teachers (18) and staff (6), and the second highest number of students (54). New Paltz Middle School has had the highest number of students (65) test positive, along with eight teachers and three other staff members. At Lenape Elementary, 36 students, six teachers and two staff members have tested positive since the beginning of the school year. At Duzine Elementary, 43 students, four teachers and two staff members have tested positive as of Wednesday, January 19. All other schools in the district were updated to Friday January 21.
The next meeting of the NPCSD Board of Education is scheduled for Wednesday February 2.