COVID-19 Testing FAQ’s
A Message from the Brewster Central School District
Why are we testing?
We have been waiting for a directive from the Governor and/or the NYSDOH in order to begin testing. However, the benchmarks and criteria that would trigger the mandate to test keep changing, all while the infectivity rate in the community continues to grow. It is now necessary for us to proceed with testing in order to add another layer of precautionary measures for our students and staff. The survey that we sent out prior to break indicated that there would be support within our community for testing. We have reviewed the responses provided to this survey and will continue to consider the information shared as we proceed with our district COVID-19 testing plans.
Why are we not waiting for zone designation?
We would like to safely reopen for in-person instruction as soon as possible. Testing will allow us to potentially identify COVID+ individuals that would otherwise enter the school community in a given timeframe, thus reducing the number of students and staff who need to quarantine due to exposure.
What is the overall testing plan?
We are committing to a bi-weekly testing protocol in which we test 10% of our staff and in-person student population each administration through the end of February. We believe that engaging in this process allows for the best chance at sustainable and consistent in-person instruction.
Which test will be used?
We will be using the BINAX rapid tests provided by the NYSDOH.
What is involved with testing?
Here is an informational video (vídeo en Espanol) produced by the Westchester County DOH. Health officials have shared that the test is incredibly easy to administer and that individuals experience minimal to no discomfort during test administration. In fact, adults and middle and high school aged students can self-administer the test under the supervision of our school nurse(s).
Who will be conducting the testing?
Our school nurses throughout the District will be conducting testing. In addition to their medical expertise, they have completed training as outlined by the Putnam County Department of Health.
Where will the testing occur?
For the first testing administration, all tests will be conducted at Brewster High School.
How often will the testing take place?
We are committing to a bi-weekly testing protocol beginning the week of January 11th. We will randomly select 10% of our in-person population every two weeks. It is our hope that we have enough families who provide consent for their son/daughter that we can minimize the number of times each student would be tested. If we receive a designation from NYS and are required to test, some of the parameters around testing may change.
As a parent/guardian, can I accompany my son/daughter to the test?
Yes, you are more than welcome to do so.
How is the 10% decided and selected?
The first step is to receive consent from parents/guardians for students in the Hybrid learning model. Once we have an idea of how many people will provide consent and who those people are, we will then randomly select 10% from that pool for our first administration. It is our goal to then pull those tested from the pool and move to a random 10% for the next test administration. However, this is all dependent on how many students provide consent.
What happens with a negative test result?
Parents/guardians will be notified via email or phone of a negative test result on the same day that the test is administered. The results are recorded internally and reported to the NYSDOH School COVID-19 Dashboard with no personally identifiable information. We do also need to report negative test results as we do positive ones, to the NYSDOH Electronic Clinical Laboratory Reporting System (ECLRS). This information is protected by federal privacy laws and is shared only with the DOH.*
What happens with a positive test result?
Parents/guardians will be notified via phone on the same day that the test is administered. At that time, instructions from the DOH on how to isolate will be shared. We are required to report all positive cases to the NYSDOH. Again, all test result information is protected by law and will be kept confidential.
What will be done with the results?
We have internal controls that protect student and staff confidentiality. Only the school nurse and an administrator will know the test result. We are required to report all positive cases to the NYSDOH. The number of negative cases is reported to the NYSDOH School COVID Dashboard.
Can my son/daughter attend in-person instruction if I do not give consent?
Per New York State guidelines, if a parent/guardian does not provide testing consent for their student, they may still return to in-person instruction. However, we are embarking on this testing journey in the hopes of obtaining a representative K-12 sample and we are reliant on the participation of our in-school community in order to do so. Should a designation or directive come from the NYSDOH or the Governor’s Office, we will need to test 20% of our in-person student population on a monthly basis in order to open for in-person instruction (given existing guidance and subject to change).
What about the cost?
There is no out of pocket cost for parents/guardians or students. The testing kits are supplied to us from the NYSDOH.
If I consent but get testing done privately, how do I report those results?
Please share a copy of the test result with each building’s school nurse(s). The sharing of this information with us is critical so that we can have a pulse on the infectivity rate in our schools. We would appreciate this information whether or not it is a testing week and/or if you are selected for testing. We also need to report this data (in a non-personally identifiable way) to the NYSDOH’s School COVID Report Card daily - the report asks for both the number of positive and negative test results.