Testing and Contact Tracing Plans
Testing: According to New York State Department of Health: (https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-testing#can-i-be-tested-) As New York State aggressively expands COVID-19 diagnostic testing capacity, the Department of Health has revised guidance to increase testing for frontline workers, including all first responders, health care workers, and essential employees who interact with the public, while continuing to prioritize resources. Testing for COVID-19 shall be authorized by a health care provider for individuals who meet one or more of the following criteria:
- An individual is symptomatic or has a history of symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever, cough, and/or trouble breathing), particularly if the individual is 70 years of age or older, the individual has a compromised immune system, or the individual has an underlying health condition; or
- An individual has had close (i.e. within six feet) or proximate contact with a person known to be positive with COVID-19; or
- An individual is subject to a precautionary or mandatory quarantine; or
- An individual is employed as a health care worker, first responder, or other essential worker who directly interacts with the public while working; or
- An individual presents with a case where the facts and circumstances – as determined by the treating clinician in consultation with state or local department of health officials – warrant testing; or
- An individual is included under other criteria set by the NYS Dept. of Health based on an individual's geographic place of residence, occupation, or other factors that the Department may deem relevant for COVID-19 testing purposes; or
- Any individual who would return to workplace in Phase 1 .
Testing in Schools
Universal SARS-CoV-2 testing of all students and staff in school settings has not been systematically studied. It is not known if testing in school settings provides any additional reduction in person-to-person transmission of the virus beyond what would be expected with implementation of other infection preventive measures (e.g., social distancing, cloth face covering, hand washing, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting). Therefore, CDC does not currently recommend universal testing of all students and staff. Implementation of a universal approach to testing in schools may pose challenges, such as the lack of infrastructure to support routine testing and follow up in the school setting, unknown acceptability of this testing approach among students, parents, and staff, lack of dedicated resources, practical considerations related to testing minors and potential disruption in the educational environment.
Types of Tests:
Viral tests approved or authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are recommended to diagnose current infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Viral tests evaluate whether the virus is present in a respiratory sample. Results from these tests help public health officials identify and isolate people who are infected in order to minimize SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
Antibody tests approved or authorized by the FDA are used to detect a past infection with SARS-CoV-2. CDC does not currently recommend using antibody testing as the sole basis for diagnosing current infection. Depending on when someone was infected and the timing of the test, the test may not find antibodies in someone with a current COVID-19 infection. In addition, it is not currently proven whether a positive antibody test indicates protection against future SARS-CoV-2 infection; therefore, antibody tests should not be used at this time to determine if someone is immune.
CDC recommendations for SARS-CoV-2 testing are based on what is currently known about the virus SARS-CoV-2 and what is known about it continues to change rapidly. Information on testing for SARS-CoV-2 will be updated as more information becomes available.
- Employees may be required to furnish a negative test result prior to returning to work.
- A note from a healthcare provider denoting a negative test result may be required to be provided to the HR office prior to returning.
- Testing may also be required prior to the return from school breaks of greater than 3 days.
- If an employee receives a positive test result, they must immediately notify their supervisor and follow all orders from the Public Health Department and furnish a negative result before returning.
- Testing for COVID-19 is covered under the St. Lawrence-Lewis School District Employees' Medical Plan.
New York State continues to increase testing capacity for COVID-19 on a daily basis. The guidance below enables New York State to prioritize resources to meet the public health need. Individuals who have questions regarding eligibility or access for testing should call the New York State COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-364-3065 or visit the NYSDOH website https://covid19screening.health.ny.gov.
Please call the testing site or your health care provider before you go for testing.
- If you go to a test site run by New York State, there is never any charge for your test.
- If you go to a test site operated by local governments, private companies including pharmacies and medical practices or not-for-profit organizations, you are advised to check with the testing site and your insurer in advance of being tested to confirm you will not be responsible for any fees associated with your test.
Contact tracing will be conducted by the department of health to limit the community spread of COVID-19. Districts/BOCES should take steps to make contact tracing easier for Public Health workers. Districts/BOCES should keep a log of any visitors to their buildings, which includes the individual’s name, the time they arrived and left, their intended destination in the building, and their phone number which may be provided to Public Health officials for contact tracing purposes.
- Districts/BOCES should also ensure that employees use their issued badges/fobs to “swipe in” to gain access to the building so that a timestamped record of entry is maintained.Tracing will be conducted by Public Health for close contacts (any individual within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes) of laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients.
- Tracing functions in the following ways:
- For COVID-19, a close contact is defined as any individual who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.
- The public health evaluation of close contacts to patients with laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19 may vary depending on the exposure setting. Contacts in special populations and/or congregate settings require additional considerations and may need handoff to a senior health department investigator or special team.
- Remote communications for the purposes of case investigation and contact tracing should be prioritized; in-person communication may be considered only after remote options have been exhausted.
- Testing is recommended for all close contacts of confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients.
- Those contacts who test positive (symptomatic or asymptomatic) should be managed as a confirmed COVID-19 case.
- Asymptomatic contacts testing negative should self-quarantine for 14 days from their last exposure (i.e., close encounter with confirmed or probable COVID-19 case)
- If testing is not available, symptomatic close contacts should self-isolate and be managed as a probable COVID-19 case.
- If testing is not available, asymptomatic close contacts should self-quarantine and be monitored for 14 days after their last exposure, with linkage to clinical care for those who develop symptoms.
Remote Learning Plans
Digital Equity and Access
- Survey families to collect information about the numbers, types, and condition of devices used in their homes to support remote learning as well as any lack of internet service.
- Even if a survey was conducted in the spring, it is important to re-survey families to account for any changes over the summer.
- Expand at-home access to devices and the internet.
- Provide students opportunities to give feedback on remote learning instruction and materials.
- Consider access to post-secondary learning opportunities for all students and how to increase these in remote learning environments.
- Consider consolidating specialized, low-enrollment classes in a region to one full class via remote learning.
- Designate a single point of contact in each school to plan and communicate with district technology teams as information from surveys becomes available.
- Revisit district technology plan to include guidance on remote learning and establishing access for families.
- Include opportunities for training and support for educators to adapt remote learning for the classroom in PD plan.
- Identify a device and/or general technology support leader for each school. Consider elevating that position to a more formal role and providing additional support potentially with parent volunteers.
- Assign technology process leaders to key efforts and publish their contact information on the district intranet and/or internet.
- Where practical given demands on parents or guardians, consider identifying family technology liaisons to support communication regarding the use of technology. (For example, the existing parent organization may be able to fulfill this role).
- Develop district-wide procedures for return and inventory of district owned devices as part of a return to school technology plan. The procedures should include:
- Safely bagging devices collected at schools;
- Sanitizing the devices prior to a repair or replacement evaluation;
- Ordering accessories that may be needed over the summer; and
- Conducting prepared maintenance routines to remove malware and fix standard issues including, screen, keyboard, or battery replacement.
- Identify an asset tracking tool.
- Identify a team to assist with processing, returning, and maintaining devices, if needed.
- Develop on-site triage of staff and student devices in partnership with BOCES IT service to minimize the time that staff may be without a device.
- Prepare an Infrastructure Evaluation process. Every WiFi access point and wired network device should be tested.
- Develop a technology support plan for families that includes options for families without internet access.
- The Return to Instruction and Learning working group should help guide others toward success. In most cases during the COVID-19 outbreak in the spring, schools and districts were determining how to shift to remote learning when kids were already at home. We have a chance to collectively plan for the next time we need to quickly deploy remote learning, so ask a small number of your staff members to consider what they have learned from this experience, then create an improved plan to reach your goals of ensuring that your students can learn, whether they are in school or at home.
- The working group should:
- Build a remote learning plan that is informed by the successes and challenges from the previous round of remote learning. Consider these questions:
- Think back to what your team learned from students and stakeholders. What went well?
- What did students, families, and stakeholders say was a significant challenge for them?
- Did teachers need more professional learning to execute your remote learning plan well?
- Was your remote learning model one that worked for your families and community?
- Address identified challenges in your current plan, ensuring that students and families are able to have a better learning experience in the event that you need to deploy remote learning again. Work with the BOCES, higher education and experts to determine solutions for identified challenges.
- Set clear goals for remote learning. How will teachers structure their instruction?
- Synchronous vs asynchronous direct instruction, tasks, and assessments
- One learning management system per student
- Provide students with tech and non-tech options for assignments
- How will you assess student learning in an environment when students have full access to “instant answers?”
- Plan your remote learning logistics now.
- Ensure that students and families have access to needed resources: computers, internet, textbooks, or packets of work, depending on the remote learning model.
- Plan for the deployment of the resources students will need to commence remote learning in the fall.
- Consider long-term shifts that you might need to make to support your technology infrastructure. Many students had limited access to technology that made moving to remote learning on virtual platforms challenging for them. Work with your broader community to propose an approach to ensuring that all students have access to broadband internet and devices over the long-term
- Access to Supports: Establish contingency plans to enable school supports such as Nurses, Counselors, SEL, meals, etc.