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District’s “Test-to-Stay” Plan Approved

January 5, 2022

Dear School Community:

I hope everyone’s return to school from holiday recess is going as smoothly as possible.

I am pleased to inform you that the district’s “Test-to-Stay” plan – the details of which were first communicated to you on January 1 – was approved by Oneida County yesterday, January 4. The plan will take effect tomorrow, January 6.  Westmo logo  

“Test-to-Stay” was adopted by both New York State and Oneida County – and permitted for schools to follow – to further prioritize in-person instruction. In accordance with state and county guidance, the district’s “Test-to-Stay” plan amends COVID-19 quarantine protocols as follows:

·       Permits all students who have been issued a quarantine order due to being a close contact to an COVID-19 positive individual in school, on a school bus or during certain supervised extracurricular activities/low risk sports, to submit to testing to remain in school instead of being quarantined.

·       While attending school, an exposed student (i.e. close contact) must test three times during the first seven days after exposure. The first test must be administered as soon as possible after exposure (the first day the student is in school following the exposure). More specifically, the first test will occur on day 0 or 1, the second test will occur on day 2, 3, or 4 and the third test will occur on day 5, 6, or 7. To remain in school, each test must be negative (i.e. an exposed student could test negative on day 1 and remain in school, but test positive on day 4 and have to isolate).

·       To qualify for testing in lieu of quarantine, the exposed student (i.e. close contact) must be, and remain, asymptomatic. If the exposed student becomes symptomatic, he or she must immediately isolate and a negative PCR test result is required to return to school. The exposed student, and all other pertinent individuals, also must have been properly wearing a face mask/covering at the time of exposure.

·       It is strongly preferred that all testing is conducted in school. Signed permission from a parent/guardian is required for a student to be tested in school.

·       “Test-to-Stay” is an option and not a requirement. Students may still quarantine after an exposure.

To read the district’s “Test-to-Stay” plan in its entirety, click here.

“Interim Updated Isolation & Quarantine Guidance”

On January 4, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) issued “Interim Updated Isolation & Quarantine Guidance” based on recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In short, if a number of conditions are met, the updated guidance allows individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 to isolate for five (5) days instead of ten (10) days as long as they remain asymptomatic. The updated guidance also allows individuals who have been exposed, but are fully vaccinated and boosted (must have had booster at least two weeks before exposure), not to quarantine as long as they wear a mask/face covering for ten (10) days and remain asymptomatic. If not fully vaccinated or fully vaccinated but not boosted, exposed individuals must quarantine for five (5) days, mask for five (5) days and, if possible, test on day five (5). If symptoms emerge and/or there is a positive test result, quarantine/isolation is extended.

Admittedly, the new guidance has caused a great amount of confusion as to what should or should not be followed. However, the new guidance is just a recommendation – not a mandate – from the CDC and NYSDOH. Most importantly, it is up to each individual county to decide what recommendations to formally adopt, implement and follow. Until directed otherwise from Oneida County, the district’s isolation and quarantine period will remain ten (10) days.

At-Home Tests

Please know the at-home tests distributed on January 2 were intended for students to test before returning to school on January 3. A total of 175 tests were distributed and a handful of asymptomatic students did test positive – so the process worked as designed. Remaining tests will be used to test students in accordance with the district’s “Test-to-Stay” plan. Thank you to all of the families who took advantage of the free tests.

Helpful Reminders

School nurses will be distributing helpful reminders about how to deal with ill/symptomatic students. Importantly – if a student was exposed out of school and is not fully vaccinated, he or she is not eligible for “Test-to-Stay” because the exposure did not occur in school. Also – students who have tested negative, but are symptomatic, should stay home until symptoms subside.

In closing, the district will continue to keep you as informed and updated as possible in a timely fashion. Please understand more times than not, we are receiving information the same time as you.

As always, thank you for your understanding and patience.

Sincerely,

Rocco Migliori
Superintendent of Schools