The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) has authorized schools in Erie County to begin utilizing a commonly used Test to Stay (TTS) strategy that limits student quarantines that is already in place in many areas of NYS. This has been implemented to help decrease the number of students placed in a mandatory quarantine when determined to be a close contact to a person that has tested positive for COVID within school. We are pleased our advocacy efforts helped to expedite approval of this program to ensure students remain in school for in-person learning.
Effective January 10, 2022, the TTS program permits unvaccinated, asymptomatic students and staff who have been exposed to COVID-19 to remain in school by getting tested.
Please read the following letter from Dr. Oldenburg announcing these changes: https://5il.co/142pp
Tonawanda City School District Test to Stay Protocols can be found here: https://5il.co/1461n
According to the ECDOH, TTS is defined as follows:
P-12 students and staff who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and who are exposed to COVID-19 while in a school setting may attend in-person classes (instruction/academic periods), even while under mandatory quarantine orders, if:
The student/staff member is symptom free.
The school has received consent for the student to undergo testing using a regimen recommended by NYSDOH.
The student/staff member is tested a minimum of two times during the five-day period following exposure, unless recognition of the exposure is delayed or weekends or school breaks intervene. One of the tests must occur on day five.
The appropriate free COVID-19 test would be provided and administered at school.
ECDOH requires that a student/staff member participating in the TTS strategy would be allowed to attend school for the academic day provided they remain asymptomatic and the test result is negative.
A student/staff member would still be considered in quarantine outside of the school day per ECDOH and would not be allowed to participate in interscholastic athletics, fine arts, or other extracurricular events.
Parental consent is required.
The exposure may occur in the school or community setting and while both the person with COVID-19 (index patient) and exposed person were consistently and properly masked.
The exposed person is tested a minimum of two times during the five-day period. following exposure, unless recognition of the exposure is delayed or weekends or school breaks intervene.
The five-day period is measured in calendar days where the last date of exposure is considered day 0. The first test should be done as soon as possible after exposure is identified (i.e., the first day the student is in school after identified exposure).
All testing will take place by personnel within the school building.
The students participating in TTS are allowed to continue to ride the school bus following all existing guidance, including required masking. However, ECDOH strongly recommends that parents/guardians provide personal transportation for students in TTS.
If a student/staff member tests positive for COVID during this process, the student will be excluded/isolated per existing procedures and contact tracing will commence by the district's COVID Coordinator.
Q. Who is eligible to participate in the TTS program?
A. The District will provide rapid antigen testing for unvaccinated students whose parents give consent to participate in the TTS program. Parents who plan to have their child participate in the TTS program are required to complete the consent form provided by the district. The TTS program is only for asymptomatic students and staff members who have had close contact with a positive case within a school building. If a student/staff member becomes symptomatic during the TTS, even with a negative antigen test, they are no longer eligible for TTS and must be excluded from school. Students and staff who are fully vaccinated are not required to quarantine following exposure and, therefore, do not need to participate in the TTS program.
Q. Can my child participate in the TTS program if their exposure occurred outside of school?
A. Yes, if the exposure occurred in the school or community setting and while both the person with COVID-19 (index patient) and exposed person were consistently and properly masked.
Q. What if I choose not to have my student participate in the TTS program?
A. Students who are unvaccinated and choose not participate in the TTS program will be required to quarantine for 5 days after exposure as required by ECDOH. Students who are quarantined may participate in virtual learning.
Q. Is there a fee to participate in the TTS program?
A. There is no fee for a students and staff to participate in the TTS program.
Q. When will the daily rapid antigen test be administered?
A. The daily rapid antigen test must be conducted by school personnel at school before the school day begins. ECDOH requires that the test to stay be administered at school, and the test cannot be administered at home.
Q. Can my child ride the bus when participating in the TTS program?
A. The students participating in TTS are allowed to continue to ride the school bus following all existing guidance, including required masking. However, ECDOH strongly recommends that parents/guardians provide personal transportation for students in TTS. Students may ride the bus home if they test negative that morning and remain asymptomatic.
Q. What if my child is identified as being exposed to COVID-19 and is notified days after the exposure date? Can they still participate in the TTS program?
A. Testing will be adjusted accordingly and students will need to test for the remaining days up to the 5th day of quarantine in order to continue to attend in-person school.
Q. What if my child was COVID-positive in the last 90 days?
A. A student who has received a lab-confirmed COVID-19 test result in the past 90 days is not required to quarantine or participate in TTS testing.
Q. What if my child develops symptoms while participating in the TTS program?
A. If the student who is allowed to remain in school through the TTS program develops COVID-19 symptoms, they must be excluded from school per current ECDOH guidance.
Q. Does the TTS program allow my child to participate in activities outside the school day?
A. Test to Stay does not permit a student to participate in sports or extracurricular activities such as band, chorus, theater and/or other activities outside of the school day for the duration of the 10-day quarantine period. According to ECDOH, the TTS program is meant to ensure that students can attend in-person instruction during the regular school day.
Q. Is testing required on weekends and holidays?
A. Testing as part of the TTS program is only required on days when school is in session (weekends and holidays are excluded). Upon return to school they must be tested to count as last day. Tests will not be administered on weekends or holidays.
Q. What happens if my child has another exposure to a positive case while participating in the TTS program?
A. If a student in the TTS program is exposed to a new COVID-19 case, the “seven-day clock” restarts from the date of the most recent exposure.
Q. Can my child get a negative COVID-19 test to be released from quarantine?
A.ECDOH does NOT permit individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19 to test out of quarantine. The TTS program is the only option that ECDOH has approved to permit unvaccinated, asymptomatic students to remain in school following a COVID-19 exposure.