A Plan for Testing and Tracing

Update, as of December 7, 2020 - 11:30 a.m. 

Through guidance from the Governor’s office and our County officials, we have learned that the new orange zone regulations allow for schools to re-open with a testing plan of 20% of students and staff monthly. All other CDC and health department guidelines of mask wearing, social distancing, temperature checks, health surveys and more are still required in order for schools to re-open. Monthly testing of 20% of students and staff is in addition to these health protocols. Parents/guardians will be asked to complete a a consent to test waiver form in order for students to return to hybrid instruction.

PARENT/GUARDIAN Consent to Test Waiver Form (.pdf)




Q: Why does my child need to be tested? Why are employees being tested?

A: Schools in the Elmira City School District are included in the Chemung County cluster which was designated by New York State as an “orange zone.” With the orange-zone designation comes state-mandated testing requirements for schools, which involves regular testing of both students and employees.

Q: How many people need to be tested?
A: We are required to test a specific portion (20%) of our school population, including students and staff, each month, in order to comply with the governor’s order and have school remain open for in person instruction.

Q: How will you select which individuals will be tested in any given week?
A: Only hybrid students who have parental permission will be tested. Among the hybrid students who have parental permission in each building, a random selection of 20% of the total hybrid cohort will be tested each week.

Q: How will the tests be performed, and who will be administering them?
A: The COVID-19 test that’s being utilized in our school buildings are not the long nasal swabs. Instead, it will be the Rapid Test (Abbott BinaxNOW) with a swab to the interior, lower portion of the nose. The swabs will be administered by nursing staff from our schools.

Q: Where will the testing be done?
A: ECSD testing will be taking place in each school building by a trained school staff member.

Q: How much time will the students be missing instruction the day they are tested. Does the student wait for the result?
A: We will do our best to minimize students’ time outside of the classroom. We are approximating that the total time out of the classroom will be 10-15 minutes. Students do not wait for their results.

Q: If a student/faculty member tests positive what happens to the students and staff who have been exposed to that student?
A: In the event that a student test is positive, the student will be taken to the COVID isolation room and the parent will be informed immediately to pick the student up from school. The Chemung County Health Department will be notified, and the school will cooperate in contact tracing with the County Health Department. The school does not have the authority to isolate or quarantine anyone. The school’s role is to assist the Chemung County Health Department in identifying individuals who were in close contact with a COVID positive individual. Close contact is defined by someone who was within six feet of a COVID positive individual for a period of at least 10 minutes or someone who was in the same room as a COVID positive individual for a period of 41 minutes or more even if they were both socially distanced and wearing masks. We may contact parents if, in cooperation with the Chemung County Health Department, we identify students who will likely be quarantined. We would request that those students stay home and participate in remote instruction until they are contacted by the Chemung County Health Department.

Q: If teachers and staff are being tested, how will instruction proceed if they are waiting to be tested?
A: All efforts will be made to minimize the impact testing has on instruction. If needed, building principals will be providing coverage for any teacher who may need to step away from their classroom for the purpose of testing. Educating, empowering and challenging all students to become productive, global citizens through innovative approaches to learning.

Q: If a child is sent home with a positive test what will be done to make sure they do not fall behind in school work? What needs to be done before they can return to school?
A: The student will be able to continue with school remotely, under the direction of the same teachers. Students who have tested positive will be contacted by the county health department and placed in isolation for a period of time dictated by the department. This has typically been 14 days from the first day a symptom has occurred. Students may return after their isolation has been lifted and they have been symptom free for 72 hours.

Q: Will I be notified if my child is tested?
A: Yes, if your child is tested at school, you will be notified on the day that testing occurred. If your child tests positive, you will be notified immediately by telephone. Children will also be bringing home information packets on the day that testing takes place.

Q: I’m not comfortable with my child being tested at school. Can I opt out?
A: Of course. No child will be tested without parental permission. If you want your child tested by your healthcare provider or a community testing center, please share the results with the District. These results will count toward the District’s 20% testing requirement.

Q: If I give permission, can I revoke it later?
A: Yes. You would need to complete the form again, placing the change in writing and inform the main office of the school building.

Q: How can I consent to, or refuse, testing?
A: To refuse or consent to testing, please return the form that was mailed and emailed home to families to your child’s school building/main office. You can also complete the form digitally through the Schoology app. It is extremely important that you complete this form, regardless of your choice.

Q: Is there a cost associated with testing?
A: There is no cost for individuals to participate in testing.

Q: How long will this testing take place? Once Elmira is out of the yellow zone will we stop testing 20% of the population?
A: Testing will take place in ECSD schools until the state has removed our community’s yellow zone designation. At that time, the District will look at the efficacy of the testing and determine to what degree testing would continue.

Q: My daughter has allergies. Is she going to have an issue if she coughs or sneezes from her allergies is she going to be sent home?
A: Parents who have children with on-going, chronic conditions should obtain a note from their doctor and submit it to the school nurse. In these cases, the school will better understand the cause behind the cough and will not be automatically sent home.

Q: What happens if a student refuses to wear a mask at school?
A: Teachers have been provided training in the ways to address non-compliance with mask wearing, social distancing and hand hygiene. Our faculty will work with the student to understand the reasons behind not wearing the mask and alternatives will be explored. If a student is not capable, even given the alternatives, it may result in the student needing to access instruction remotely.

Q: Are temperatures still going to be taken first thing in the morning? And will you test those that have a higher temp than normal?
A: Yes. Daily temperature checks, hand sanitizing and social distancing are three main components of our re-opening Track Back plan that will continue even with surveillance testing in place.

Q. Will my child’s information be shared?
A. The law allows some information about your child to be shared with and among certain New York State agencies and their contracted service providers. This information will be shared only for public health purposes, which may include notifying close contacts of your child if they have been exposed to COVID-19, and taking other steps to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in your school community. Information about your child that may be shared with these agencies and service providers conducting COVID-19 Testing includes your child’s name and COVID-19 test results, date of birth/age, gender, race/ethnicity, school name(s), teacher(s), classroom/cohort/pod, enrollment and attendance history, and afterschool or other program participation, names of other family members or guardians, address, telephone, mobile number, and email address. Sharing of information about your child will only be done so in accordance with applicable law and state policies protecting student privacy and the security of your child’s data.

Q. What should I do when I receive my child’s test results?
A. If your child’s test results are positive, please contact your child’s doctor immediately to review the test results and discuss what you should do next. You should keep your child at home and inform your child’s school. If your child’s test results are negative, this means that the virus was not detected in your child’s specimen. Tests sometimes produce incorrect negative results (called “false negatives”) in people who have COVID-19. If your child tests negative but has symptoms of COVID-19, or if you have concerns about your child’s exposure to COVID-19, you should call your child’s doctor.



SCREENING AT HOME, BEFORE SCHOOL BY PARENTS

The Elmira City School District will ensure that parents/guardians will be provided materials to assist in observing for signs of illness in their child that require staying home from school.

We are asking parents to please monitor their child’s temperature daily before school. Temperature check is only accurate when there has been no use of fever-reducing medications i.e. Tylenol (Acetaminophen), Motrin, Advil (Ibuprofen).

Parents will be required to complete and submit this questionnaire to the school as instructed. A screening questionnaire will be provided by the school which determines whether the individual has:

• Knowingly been in close or proximate contact in the past 14 days with anyone who has tested positive through a diagnostic test for COVID-19 or who has or had symptoms of COVID-19
• Tested positive through a diagnostic test for COVID-19 in the past 14 days
• Has experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 14 days
• Has experienced any symptoms of COVID-19, including a temperature of greater than 100.0 F in the past 14 days
• Has traveled internationally or from a state with widespread community transmission of COVID-19 per the New York State Travel Advisory in the past 14 days.
Please make sure you are completing and submitting this questionnaire to the school as instructed.

IN-SCHOOL COVID-19 SCREENING PROTOCOLS


The Elmira City School District has written protocol developed in collaboration with the district or school’s director of school health services to instruct staff to observe the signs of illness in students and staff and requires symptomatic person to be sent to the school nurse or other designated personnel.
All staff will be trained to observe students or other members for signs of any type of illness including the symptoms issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as: Flushed cheeks; rapid or difficulty breathing (without recent physical activity), fatigue, and/or irritability and frequent use of bathroom.

Students who walk to school, are dropped off, or drive will be directed to designated entrance for a health screening. Appropriate social distancing guidelines and supervision will be in place while students wait for assessment. Trained staff will also abide by appropriate social distancing and PPE guidelines. Screening will include temperature check and questions. Students passing screening will proceed to classroom/homeroom.
The Elmira City School District has a written protocol for daily temperature screenings of all students and staff, along with a daily screening questionnaire for faculty and staff and periodic use of the questionnaire for students. A screening questionnaire will be provided by the school. Please make sure you are completing and submitting this questionnaire to the school as instructed.

BUS STOP COVID-19 SCREENING PROTOCOLS


Students riding a school bus will be screened at the bus stop by designated staff before boarding. Screening will include temperature check and a COVID-19 questionnaire. If a student with any above symptoms is identified, a parent will be contacted and the student will not be allowed to board the bus. Students arriving to school via bus will enter the school building at the designated entrance so that staff are aware that bus students have been screened. Students will then proceed to their classroom/homeroom.

POSITIVE SCREEN UPON ARRIVAL TO SCHOOL


If your child reports to school with any positive symptoms, they will immediately be isolated under supervision until parent/guardian pickup. Parent/Guardian will be advised to notify Health Care Provider.
A School Nurse will escort student outside to parent/guardian for pickup. We ask that you do not enter the building unless otherwise directed.
If a child reports to school with any positive symptoms, they will immediately be isolated under supervision until parent/guardian pickup. Parent/guardian will be advised to notify Health Care Provider. Nurse will escort student outside to parent/guardian for pickup. We ask that you do not enter the building unless otherwise directed.

The Elmira City School District has a written protocol requiring students or staff with a temperature, signs of illness, and/or a positive response to the questionnaire to be sent directly to a dedicated isolation area where students are supervised, prior to being picked up or otherwise sent home.
The Elmira City School District has written protocol to address visitors, guests, contractors and vendors to the school which includes health screening.

The District will minimize visitors to school buildings to only essential workers allowed to enter the site. Those deemed essential will be screened by trained personnel prior to entering and having student or staff contact.

STUDENTS BECOMING ILL IN SCHOOL

Staff will be trained to identify potential COVID-19 symptoms. If your child develops symptoms during the school day, they will immediately be isolated under supervision, assessed by health care personnel, and parent/guardian will be notified for pickup of student.

Schools are not responsible for conducting investigations or testing of staff or students. This responsibility lies with local health officials and healthcare providers. It is important to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of those seeking health care and those who may be part of any contact investigation by the County Health Department.

The Elmira City School District ensures that ill students and staff be assessed by the school nurse (registered professional nurse, RN) or medical director and that if a school nurse or medical director is not available, ill student and staff will be sent home for follow-up with a healthcare provider.

Following assessment by the school nurse, any student or staff with a temperature of 100 degrees F (37.78C) or higher, signs of illness, and/or positive response to a screening questionnaire will be directed to a dedicated isolation area. Students will be supervised while in the isolation area, prior to being picked up otherwise sent home. Isolation areas in each school building have been identified.

It is imperative that you child’s school have updated contact information to reach families in a timely fashion. Please notify school of change of address and/or phone number immediately.

In the event that a parent/guardian cannot be reached for pick-up, designated school staff (2 staff members required) will make a home visit to advise need for pickup. If parent/guardian is not home, home visits will be made to designated emergency contacts.

RETURNING TO SCHOOL AFTER A POSITIVE SCREEN

Schools must follow CDC, NYSDOH and Chemung County Health Department guidance for allowing a student and staff member to return to school after being diagnosed with COVID-19 or exhibiting symptoms consistent with possible COVID-19.

Symptoms of COVID-19 but does NOT have COVID-19: If a person has symptoms of possible COVID-19 illness, but is determined NOT to have COVID-19 by a healthcare provider (physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant), they can return to school when:

a) There is no fever, without the use of fever reducing medicines, for at least 24 hours;
b) They have been diagnosed with another condition (not COVID-19) and have a healthcare provider written note stating they are clear to return to school.
c) They are allowed to return to school based on existing school district illness policies / protocols.
Symptoms of COVID-19 & is diagnosed with COVID-19: If a person has symptoms of COVID-19 and has been diagnosed with COVID-19 by a healthcare provider either based on a positive test result or just based upon their symptoms, they should remain at home and not return to school until:
a) It has been at least ten days since the individual first had symptoms, AND;
b) It has been at least 24 hours since the individual has had a fever (without using fever reducing medicine); AND
c) It has been at least three days since the individual’s symptoms improved, including cough and shortness of breath.
d) Repeat COVID-19 testing is NOT required prior to reentering school. However, if a healthcare provider advises a person to be COVID-19 test negative prior to school reentry, they can reenter school when they have no fever, their respiratory symptoms have improved, and they have received two negative test results in a row, at least 24 hours apart.
No symptoms of COVID-19 & is diagnosed with COVID-19: If a person has tested positive for COVID-19, but has no symptoms of COVID-19, they should remain at home and not return to school until:
a) 10 days have passed since test was done (if they continue to have no symptoms of COVID-19).
b) Repeat COVID-19 testing is NOT required prior to reentering school.
c) However, if a healthcare provider advises a person to be COVID-19 test negative prior to school reentry, they can reenter school when they have no fever, their respiratory symptoms have improved, and they have received two negative test results in a row, at least 24 hours apart.

COVID-19 illness & people with weakened immune systems: People with conditions that weaken their immune system (immunocompromised), who acquire COVID-19 illness, might need to stay home longer than 10 days. This would be determined and communicated to the school district by their healthcare providers.