COVID Related Updates: Diagnostic Testing, Screening Testing and Indoor Events

Good Afternoon,

I hope this communication finds you all well and dry! Looks like we have a significant amount of rainfall in our forecast for the remainder of the day, but then blue skies and sun tomorrow!  I am reaching out this afternoon with a few COVID related updates.

Ontario County DOH Fact Sheet Specific to Diagnostic Testing of COVID Exposed Students 
In response to numerous inquiries from component school districts in our county, the Ontario County Department of Public Health prepared and released the following information for the school communities it serves.  The information contained below in the Ontario County Fact Sheet supersedes any previous district communication specific to diagnostic testing. Thank you in advance for your patience as HCS navigates this new health related facet in our organization. This is a rapidly evolving, ever changing process for all of us!  
Testing Exposed Children for COVID-19 at School Revised 10/25/2021
Ontario County Public Health and County Leadership have been meeting weekly with school  superintendents to develop a plan to keep COVID-19-exposed students in the classroom through  daily testing in the nurse’s office. At this point in time, staff has been trained and testing supplies have  been delivered to all schools in Ontario County. The initiative will be closely monitored, and it will be adjusted if it becomes clear there is increased spread of COVID during the school day.

Synopsis: Testing Exposed Children during the School Day
  • Exposed children who DO NOT have ANY symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, headache, fever, nausea,  vomiting, diarrhea, loss of taste/smell, significant nasal discharge, sore throat, excessive fatigue) may  remain in school if they test negative for COVID-19 during the school day and if masking is strictly enforced. Children with mild “sniffles” in the morning on a school day, may present to school for  testing.  
  • Process:
    • Schools will test exposed children daily by rapid Polymerase Chain Reaction (pcr) through  day seven.  
    • Children may remain in school and participate in extracurricular activities Mon-Fri if they  test negative.
    • If on day seven, children are without symptoms and remain negative by pcr, they need no  further testing and may resume all usual activities.
    • If there is a lag in beginning daily testing, children need at least 2 negative tests, 24-hours  apart, to be released from quarantine (days 6-7, 7-8, 8-9). If the final day falls on a weekend or holiday, test the child for the last time, on the first day back to school.
Common Questions about this New Process
Why can exposed children now remain in school?
  • Keeping children in the classroom is a priority for you, your child, your child’s school, and Ontario  County Public Health. After much thought and discussion, health department leadership believes it is  reasonable for exposed students to be tested daily and kept in school if they are negative for COVID 19. In the unlikely event of a false negative, strict adherence to masking decreases the likelihood of  spread during the school day.
Can ALL exposed students stay in school?
  • Exposed students may attend school when ALL the following criteria are met. 
1. They have no symptoms
2. Their school has enough staff and test kits to do daily pcr testing
3. Their parent or guardian has given the school permission to test their child  
4. They test negative every day

Does a negative test mean they do not have to mask? 
  • No, masking remains very important. We are relying on masking to prevent spread in the event of a false negative test result.  
I’ve heard kids can test out of quarantine after day 7. What’s this about? 
  • The CDC allows for testing out of quarantine if the local health department is agreeable. In Ontario County, school children can test out after seven days if they test negative (by pcr) at school through  day seven.  
  • Rationale: By day 7, if virus is growing in the body, most exposed people will either have symptoms or test positive. Those symptom-free and negative through day 7, are unlikely to  have virus in their bodies. Repeating the test daily, lowers the likelihood of false negatives.
What about weekends and holidays?
  • Schools are not expected to test children on weekends and holidays. Testing should resume on the next school day.
What if day 7 falls on a weekend or holiday?
  • The child should be tested a final time on the next school day.
Can exposed students participate in school-sponsored weekend or holiday activities? 
  • If the exposed child needs to attend a school-sponsored event on a weekend or holiday, the school may provide testing on the day of the event. Alternatively, if rapid pcr testing is available in the community (pharmacy, urgent care) and the student provides a negative test result the day of the event, they may attend if masked. If testing is not available, the student may not attend. If masking is not possible while within 6-feet of others, the student may not attend.
Can exposed students participate in non-school sponsored evening, weekend, or holiday activities?
  • Non-school activities outside of the home during quarantine are not allowed. This includes social events, private lessons, non-school sports, playdates, sleepovers, clubs, etc.  
  • Rationale:  The decision to allow children to attend school during quarantine was made knowing  masking and social distancing are monitored and enforced during the school day. It is impossible for the health department to know if these measures are in place outside of school.  
  • If a child tests positive or get symptoms in the 48 hours after such an activity, all who had close, unmasked contact with them for >15 minutes will be considered exposed and will  require a 10-day quarantine.
Does my exposed child have to stay away from other household members? 
  • Exposed children should stay away from other family members to the extent possible based on age  and developmental level. If it is impossible to stay apart, other household members will need to  quarantine if the child goes on to develop symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19. Masking at home will decrease the likelihood of spread.
What if the exposed child has symptoms? 
  • A child who becomes ill between the end of the school day and the following morning, should not be sent to school the next day. A medical provider should evaluate and test this child for COVID-19. A doctor’s note including a specific, alternative diagnosis may be accepted by the school if criteria to  return (per school policy) is met. Daily testing should resume when the student returns to school.
What if this student returns after day 7?
  • If the student returns after day 7 but before day 11, the child needs a final test on their first day back.
If an exposed child becomes sick at school, can they be tested prior to going home? 
  • In this case, the child may be tested prior to being sent home, if the school has testing supplies and staff available. If positive, the case will be reported to the health department and a 10-day isolation  will begin. If negative, the child may go back to school when school criteria for return are met. Daily  testing should resume and continue through day seven.
What if this student returns after day 7?
  • If the student returns after day 7 but before day 11, the child needs a final test on their first  day back.
Will I be contacted by a New York State Contact Tracer?
  • Yes, when your child is identified as a contact, they are assigned to a NYS Contact Tracer. This individual will call your home and take a short history (about 15 minutes) and they will set you up  with a daily texting program. 
  • You will receive a text every day through day ten, even if your child  tests out of quarantine after day seven. Please answer their texts through day ten. This is very important as in some people symptoms may take longer than 7 days to develop. This step provides an added safety net. 
  • Calls from contact tracers may be identified as unknown numbers or may be from a 518 Area Code. If you do not answer, they will call back. Please answer these calls.  
NOTE: Your school district is aware children may test out of quarantine in 7-days and this is acceptable to  Ontario County Public Health.
  • The County is working with the NY State Department of Health and the  New York State COVID-19 Investigation and Contact Tracing Unit to streamline this process. 
  • You may receive conflicting information from the NY State Contact Tracer assigned to your child or family.  This is a temporary situation and will be resolved soon. Please follow the instructions in this document and those given to you by your school.
How long will this program last?
  • The grant that covers testing expires in July 2022 and testing of school contacts will continue as long as schools are willing, test kits are available, and funds remain. Staff and testing supplies are expensive and though we’ve planned well, there is a possibility that funds will run out prematurely due to the volume of testing.
Please feel free to reach out to our school nurse, Marybeth Tonkery, or the Ontario County DOH with any questions about this information.

COVID Screening Testing at HCS
  • You may recollect that unvaccinated teachers and staff working in a P-12 school setting are required to get tested once per week when a school is operating in a geographic area identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has having low, moderate, substantial or high transmission rates (basically at all times).  
    • Note: COVID screenings or proof of vaccination is mandatory for all teachers and staff.
  • Additionally, P-12 schools are required to offer screening testing to students once per week, with appropriate parent and guardian consent for minors, when such schools are operating in geographic areas identified by the CDC as have moderate, substantial, or high transmission rates (basically at all times).  
    • Note: COVID screenings are not mandatory for students.  The ability of the district to offer such screening for students IS required.
  • Ontario County will provide the necessary resources and training to conduct screening testing onsite at HCS. 
  • OCDOH will cover cost of all screening testing via the COVID related grant funding obtained from the federal government.
  • Pooled testing data will be collected and warehoused through an online solution called Quadrant. To participate, individuals MUST register via an online link.
  • The process for administration of "pooled testing" is noninvasive and includes obtaining a cheek swab.
  • Samples will be sent to offsite lab for results.
  • Individual "positive" results will be communicated to the district and NYSDOH (as required) within 24 - 48 hours.
  • The mandatory COVID screening testing for unvaccinated teachers and staff will be launched at HCS week ending November 5. Marybeth Tonkery and OCDOH contract nurse, Brenda Toner, are coordinating efforts at this time to roll out next week.
  • We anticipate COVID screening testing may be available for students (as desired by families and with signed consent) week ending November 12. More information will be shared as it becomes available.
Winter Athletics, Concerts, Drama Productions and COVID
HCS could not be more pleased or PROUD to reintroduce time honored, asset building experiences for our students this year amidst the context of COVID.  In fact, it is the commitment of the district to approve, support and celebrate alongside our students as they compete in athletics, engage in vocal or instrumental musicianship, and/or participate in the numerous and varied extracurriculars offered at the POUND!  Given the transition to autumn/winter and subsequent shift to predominantly indoor events, we thought it might be helpful to share the district's approach to safe implementation of such activities.

In accordance with the NYSDOH Commissioner’s determination issued pursuant to 10 NYCRR 2.60, and as outlined in the Board of Education approved 2021-22 HCS Reopening Plan,all students, personnel, teachers, administrators, contractors, and visitors must wear masks at all times indoors, regardless of vaccination status. 
 
Impact: Simply put, this means that in addition to our students and staff being required to wear masks, the district will require that all visitors, guests, spectators, officials, audience members, chaperones, etc. adhere to universal masking while in attendance at any event(s) at the POUND.

A few additional notes about indoor events at the POUND this fall/winter:
  1. HCS will discontinue health screenings, temperature checks, and sign in (for contract tracing) at extracurricular and athletic events.
  2. HCS will recommend and encourage physical spacing of three feet between spectators whom are not of the same household.
  3. HCS will require adherence of universal masking by all.  Chaperones will be requested to redirect spectators to wear mask properly (covering mouth and nose). 
    • Expectations surrounding masking will be posted at ingress to facility and at entry to gymnasium  / auditorium (easel signs).
    • Expectations surrounding masking will be communicated at the onset of events.
    • Expectations surrounding COVID related safety measures will be posted on the athletics calendar.
We respect and appreciate the continuum of sentiment on the masking issue.  We hope to work in partnership with the HCS community to ensure that we may provide as rich an experience for our students and their families as possible.  We thank you in advance for your support of our efforts.  It is our sincerest hope not to have to restrict capacity for any of our indoor events.  

On behalf of the Honeoye Central School District, thank you for your ongoing support and partnership in advocacy for all HCS students. There is no place like Honeoye...  As always, please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns about the information included in this communication, or otherwise.

Warmest regards,
E. Bridget Ashton

Elizabeth Bridget Ashton
Superintendent, Honeoye Central School District
8528 Main Street
Honeoye, New York 14471
bridget.ashton@honeoye.org
On Twitter: @EBridgetAshton