BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Typically if a student is exposed to COVID-19 at school and is not vaccinated, that student has to quarantine at home for ten days even if they’re not sick.
The New York State Council of School Superintendents is looking to change that. They made a proposal to the state department of health to adopt a “Test to Stay ” policy. It’s a method that’s used in several states across the nation. It allows students who have had exposure to Covid-19 to show a negative test and stay in school — instead of quarantined at home.
“If it’s your child, it’s a big deal,” said Michael Cornell President of the Erie Niagara School Superintendent Association. “It creates educational difficulties for the child, social-emotional issues for the child, it becomes an economic issue for the parents if they’re required to stay home.”
Mike Cornell is one of the dozens of educators who are supporting a “Test-to-Stay” protocol for schools in the state. Cornell says about 2,500 students in 30 districts in the region had to be quarantined– not including Buffalo — from September 1st to October 10th. Of those kids, he says, most of them didn’t have covid.
“When a student is exposed a covid positive person and is required to be quarantined, in almost every case, that exposure does not result in infection,” he said.
In Buffalo, it is unclear how many students have been quarantined since the start of the school year. District representatives say they’re working to find that number.
Meanwhile, educators are supporting a “Test-to-Stay” protocol as well as other measures.
“I think we need to seriously revisit the close contact interpretation or guidelines as well as quarantining,” said Larry Scott, Buffalo Board of Education Member and co-chair of educational support committee.
“I think, from the research I’ve seen, the Test and Stay model is something that should be considered and explored. I’m not a medical expert, so I can’t make an ultimate determination, but based on what I’m seeing and hearing, I think we need to start moving in a more evidence-based process to determine which students need to be quarantined and which should remain in our buildings.”
Angelica Morrison is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.