COVID Testing Email to Families (Dec. 9)

Dear Niskayuna Families,

As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, our overarching goal is to keep our schools open for in-person instruction for our students. As mentioned in an email message last week, it is possible that our area will enter one of the state’s designated zones for COVID-19 restrictions and new protocols based on the prevalence of the virus. School-based COVID testing is one of these protocols.

In an effort to be proactive, we are reaching out today to ask for your consent for your child(ren) to be tested if COVID testing at school remains necessary to stay open for in-person instruction. You can fill out the consent form for your child at the link at the end of this e-mail (click on their name).

At this time, area is not within one of the state’s zones, but we do know that this is possible in the coming days. We want to be prepared to take the actions necessary to stay open for in-person learning.

If testing is necessary, our plan is for this to be saliva-based pool testing. This would be a quick test in which individuals would simply need to spit into a tube. However, based on the requirements, there is the possibility that we would need to conduct BinaxNow rapid testing, which is a minimally invasive shallow swab test that involves a swab (similar to a Q-tip) going in the front of the nose.

As soon as we know more about the timing and type of any testing, you will be informed. In the meantime, we ask you to complete the consent form at the link below so that we can be as proactive as possible as a community.

We understand that this issue may raise a variety of considerations and questions. To help, we have established a COVID-19 School Testing Q&A on our website at https://www.niskayunaschools.org/covid-19-testing-qa/.

There are a few key points that we would like to share:

  • All-remote students will not be tested and their families should not fill out the consent form.
  • No individual is required to be tested, but it is our hope to have strong cooperation so that we can keep our schools open for in-person instruction.
  • If we are unable to meet the minimum required number of tests by school, we would likely need to transition the school(s) to all-remote learning for a time period that is undefined at this point.
  • We expect to have results from saliva-based pool tests back within 24 hours.
  • If any individuals are part of a pool of tests that indicate COVID-19 positivity, all of the members of the pool will be referred for follow-up COVID-19 testing.
  • In the event of any positive results stemming from testing, we will follow all of our current protocols regarding working with public health partners regarding contact tracing and quarantining.
  • We will continue to keep you informed and update the Q&A as needed.

In closing, we want to note that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said recently that the protocols schools have put into place to control the spread of the virus have been “highly effective.” We are proud of the way the Niskayuna community has come together to promote health, safety and learning these past several months and our plan is to continue doing just that.

Thank you for your consideration of this information and your continued support and partnership.

Niskayuna Central School District