Columbia County schools are ready to help curb the virus with at-home COVID-19 tests.
The six school districts in Columbia County reopened Monday from the holiday recess and are preparing home COVID test kits for all 6,453 students.
“The state had indicated that those tests would have been delivered on Friday,” Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb said. “The schools are all getting one test per student. There’s roughly 6,000 kids in school in the county.”
Several school districts sent letters to district families and posted on district websites about their plans for distribution of the COVID tests.
The Hudson City School District announced it would be distributing test kits to families Tuesday at the rear entrance of the Junior High School from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 3:30 to 5 p.m. The district will offer drive-through and walk-up options to pick up test kits.
“We are seeing the impact of the omicron variant throughout the region and state,” Hudson assistant Superintendent for School Improvement April Prestipino said in a statement. “We ask for your continued cooperation in following our established COVID protocols, including mask wearing, physical distancing and staying home when sick. We will continue to keep you updated with any changes to conditions or protocols. Thank you for your continued patience and partnership.”
Test kits will be provided to parents with students in the Germantown Central School District at the main entrance Tuesday and Wednesday from 3-5 p.m.
Ichabod Crane Central School District will be distributing test kits Tuesday between 3 and 7p.m.
Chatham Central School District will be distributing test kits Tuesday afternoon from 3p.m.-to 5:30p.m.
“We’re working on our plan and our communication that will go out later on today to parents,” Chatham CSD superintendent Sal DeAngelo said. “We’re going to set up, kind of a drive-thru distribution tomorrow afternoon. This is strictly a voluntary offering for who choose to participate. The governor has provided a test kit per student, the kit includes two tests. We are more than happy to distribute these to parents as a screening tool.”
New Lebanon Central School District will be distributing test kits Tuesday from 3:45 to 5:45 p.m. at the Junior-Senior High School main entrance.
“These tests have been given to school districts by the state of New York to distribute to families with the goal of keeping our schools open for in-person learning,” New Lebanon Central School District superintendent Andrew Kourt said in a statement. “Thank you for your support and I look forward to our continued work together.”
The school districts and the health department will be in a position to accept the results of the home tests, Mabb said.
“We’re going to get these teat results and we’re going to have to accept them, even though we have not historically done so, without a confirmatory test.”
The Columbia County Department of Health website is undergoing modification, Mabb said. Soon, the site will allow people to self-report their tests.
“Where they can actually send the information into us, otherwise we won’t be able to confirm them, unless people voluntarily do that,” Mabb said. “Our concern, honestly, our very real concern, is that people are going to use these test kits at home and end up with a positive child and then send them to school, especially if they’re asymptomatic or have very light symptoms.”
The reporting of home test results is basically on an honor system, Mabb said.
The Department of Health website will start to show changes likely Tuesday, Mabb said.
“We’ve reached a point where one of the big changes is going to be isolation and quarantine letters, Mabb said. “If they have a bonafide result from WellNow or CVS or something like that, then we can take their result and put them in the system, if they’re using home tests, the letters that are going to go up tomorrow, really requires them to attest to the truth.”
Most people need letters from the Health Department to give to work or school notifying them the individual is positive for COVID-19, Mabb said.
“A lot of people need the letters, we just simply can’t keep up with those letters,” Mabb said. “We had 110 cases as of right now for today, and 140 on Saturday. We’re not able to keep up with the letters so we’re going to put it on our website so people can create their own letters and that should be done by the end of business tomorrow (Tuesday).”
People who do not have access to internet can call the department of health for help getting a letter.