At-home COVID tests to be distributed to North Country schools

Virus Outbreak Testing Shortage

This image provided by Abbot in September 2021 shows packaging for their BinaxNOW self test for COVID-19. President Joe Biden is betting on millions more rapid, at-home tests to help curb the latest deadly wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is overloading hospitals and threatening to shutter classrooms around the country. But the tests have already disappeared from pharmacy shelves in many parts of the U.S., and manufacturers warn it will take them weeks to ramp up production, which was slashed after demand for the tests plummeted over the summer of 2021. (Abbot via AP)

NEW YORK (WWTI) — As schools across the North Country return following their holiday vacations on Monday, many have plans in place to combat the ongoing COVID surge.

On Friday, December 31, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced the state’s “Winter Surge Plan 2.0” in response to increasing COVID-19 cases statewide. According to Governor Hochul, her top priority was to ensure schools remain open for in-person instruction this month.

Strategies to keep schools open included providing tests to students and school districts. The Governor’s Office confirmed that in the final week of December, 5.56 million tests arrived for schools and between six and seven million more were expected to be delivered in the first days of January.

To distribute these tests, Gov. Hochul mobilized 40 trucks and 86 state personnel to distribute these testing kits. In total, 37 million tests will be distributed across the state.

Local schools in the North Country have already released plans on how these testing kits will be administered.

School districts in Jefferson County have confirmed that testing kits will be distributed by BOCES in the first weeks of January.

According to local administration, testing is voluntary, and aims to “add an additional layer of protection in the event symptoms are present.” Educators confirmed that at-home testing will not be a requirement for entry into school.

New York will also be implementing “Test-to-Stay” policies for local school districts. Through this, the state will work with counties with the goal of keeping schools open.

Specifically, if a student tests positive for the coronavirus, affected classmates will be permitted to take a test kit home and return to the classroom upon receiving negative results instead of mandatory quarantine.

Governor Hochul’s Winter Surge Plan 2.0 also included masking requirements, the distribution of antiviral treatments, boosting hospital capacity, vaccination access expansions and working with local partners.

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