GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB) — Grand Island schools are wrapping up day 2 of their “test to stay” program for unvaccinated students. Superintendent Dr. Brian Graham reports 23 students were tested for the coronavirus on Tuesday, after coming in close contact with a Covid positive student. All 23 students tested negative and could attend class. Graham says he feels good about the direction the program is headed, and their partnership with Erie County and Buffalo Homecare.

However, school leaders are pushing for county-wide “test to stay” programs used in neighboring states and counties.

“It’s been working all year in Massachusetts, and they are doing it in Monroe County, 60 miles down the road,” said Michael Cornell, President of Erie-Niagara School Superintendents Association. “It’s available to all schools in the county. They have 750,000 tests. We know this works.”

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says the county wants to make sure all I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed before making any other moves.

“We want to make certain that if we do implement a test to stay program in our entire community, we first have to work with the school districts to do that,” said Poloncarz at a Covid-19 press conference Tuesday. “We want to make certain it is safe.”

The Grand Island school district is partnering with Erie County. The School pays for the cost of Buffalo Homecare, which will handle data and testing. Erie County will pay for the test. Graham and Cornell are hopeful a bigger department will step up and help.

“It would be wonderful if the New York State Department of Health took interest in that and provided support,” said Graham. “Whether it’s access to tests and other supports that would make this scalable across Erie County and across other parts of the state.”

The program is expected to wrap up at the end of December. Poloncarz says patience is key.

“We don’t want to rush and do something that could theoretically backfire and then see a whole classroom or a whole school that is closed.”

According to the Erie County Department of Health, 41% of Grand Island residents younger than 19 have at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Abby Fridmann is an anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in November 2020. See more of her work here.