BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Buffalo Public School District’s in-school COVID-19 testing provider will no longer offer testing to the district, BPS superintendent Kriner Cash said in a letter Monday.

“We learned today that Affinity Empowering, our in-school Covid testing provider, would be ceasing
operations effective immediately,” Cash writes. “An email, sent by Affinity’s parent company, Clinical Enterprise, Inc., to our principals late in the evening of November 26th, informed them of the change. As superintendent, I still have not received any such notification, verbally or in writing from Affinity or the ECDOH.”

A statement from an Affinity Empowering representative said today that Clinical Enterprise Inc. is not their parent company. Affinity Empowering was a contracted subcontractor for Clinical Enterprise Inc., which is the organization that operates the “Operation Expanded Testing” . The testing program is a federally funded program for schools.

The statement says: “As of November 25th, 2021, Clinical Enterprise, Inc., who was and continues to be the lead on Operation Expanded Testing (the federal government initiative to provide fully funded COVID-19 testing to schools and community organizations) for the Northeast and Southern hubs, took over day-to-day servicing and support needs, and is managing communication to sites.” 

Cash added that Affinity has been managing in-school testing for the district since September when the schools returned to in-person learning five days a week.

The company was recommended by the Erie County Department of Health and paid for by the federal government, Cash added.

The district’s medical advisory team is reviewing the development with staff and expects to find an alternative to Affinity. In the meantime, the district’s main strategy is to get consent to vaccinate more students aged five to 18 each week.

Cash adds that he has requested Gov. Hochul’s office and local health officials to provide the district directly with 50,000 doses of the vaccine.

“We have the facilities, the pediatricians, the school nurses, the cleaning staff, the transportation systems, the communications systems, the security teams, and the necessary refrigeration to get the job done effectively,” Cash writes. “Provide us 50,000 vaccines directly to start, and we will get the first dose done in two weeks, and we can continue the sequence from there. This is a critical issue, and we are at a critical juncture.”

Governor Hochul’s office released the following statement in response to Cash’s request.

The statement is as follows: “Governor Hochul is focused on getting kids vaccinated and keeping them in school safely, and we have been in constant communication with school districts across the state to make sure that they have all the resources they need to keep students and staff safe. The Governor has launched targeted programs to the school community, including the #VaxtoSchool initiative with approximately 200 sites already established, including 28 sites in Western New York, six sites in Buffalo—including one hosted at a school just last week—as well as the vaccine incentive programs such as the Vaccinate, Educate, Graduate Scholarship. We’re proud that thanks to our efforts to partner with local leaders, over 100,000 children in New York state have been vaccinated to date.”