Erie County students might have to wait just a little bit longer for a Test to Stay plan


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Erie County Health Department postponed a Wednesday meeting with area schools on a possible Test To Stay protocol. The county health department told News 4, the delay is to give staff more time to review the state’s updated quarantine guidance.

“It was really disappointing to school superintendents. We were looking forward to the opportunity to hear her (the health commissioner) speak and we didn’t get to do that,” said Michael Cornell, Erie Niagara Superintendents Association president and Hamburg schools superintendent. “We certainly would have welcomed the opportunity to have some dialog. Some actual verbal give and take.”

The state is following the CDC’s steps and is reducing the number of days for quarantine to five days. But, when it comes to schools, they’re waiting for additional guidance from the CDC.

New Guidance of Quarantine is here:

The “Test to Stay” option lets students show a negative test instead of quarantining when in close contact with a positive case.

“Even if the quarantine period goes from ten days to five, it seems to me Test to Stay would be a valuable tool in the toolbox,” Cornell said. “Even if it saves a child one day or two days of being home instead of in school, that’s critically important to a child who loves school or needs school.”

In Niagara County, districts are looking to put Test To Stay in motion around January 17th or 18th.
They’re using some of the testing supplies provided by the state, but the problem is they’re unsure if testing supplies will continue to flow from the state in weeks to come.

“Yes, we’re going forward in Niagara County with the Test to Stay. Yes, we need to be sure we have a flow of tests available for this. Finally, we just need to solidify our protocols and practices, put them in policy and implement them,” said Mark Laurrie, Niagara Falls City School Superintendent.

“Once we start, stopping is going to be problematic. So, we’re moving forward with it. The school districts have agreed to work together on it and to submit one plan for my department to review,” said Daniel Stapleton Niagara County Public Health Director. “As early as this morning, we had emails asking if we’re going to get a continuous supply of test kits, and I’m not positive about that. We hope so. We’re planning on IT.”

Angelica Morrison is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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