JAMESTOWN – The area’s largest school district is seeking more guidance about New York’s “Test to Stay” program as they work to crackdown on COVID-19 spread in an effort to keep kids in class this winter.
Jamestown Public Schools has received a “massive amount” of take home COVID tests for their returning students, however they did not have enough time to distribute them before the winter break was over. The question now is, what’s next as kids are back in class.
“We still have a lot of guidance to work our way through to figure out exactly what the health department both at the state level and the county level would like us to do with those,” explained Superintendent Kevin Whitaker. “And to provide parents with an opportunity if they wish to test their children at home.”
The main problem that Whitaker, and the School Board faces, is mixed matched guidance from county, state, and federal health leaders.
“We have two pieces of guidance,” stated Whitaker. “One was around 2 o’ clock, that was from the county saying that they formally have approved the school district’s ability to use tests to stay.”
A big question remains, is the testing required or optional? Right now, the school is not mandating the testing, unless they hear back from the state on the issue.
“Then today at around ten after five p.m. the New York state Department of health put out additional guidance,” said Whitaker.
He fears if the school system does not follow the correct guidelines they could be issued a fine by the state. Overall, Whitaker just wants his students and community to be safe.
“The main thing is that we want to make sure that our staff and our kids are as safe as possible,” explained Whitaker. “So, we’re going to do what the science and our physicians tell us what we should do in order to do that.”
The board did not come to a decision of what to do with the tests, and settled on waiting for more guidance. In the meantime, any parent that wants a take home test should call their child’s school as tests are available. More information is posted online at jpsny.org/COVIDTesting.