ALBANY, NY. (NEWS10) — Starting Tuesday, the City School District of Albany is back to in-person learning for the first time since January 5. The district is implementing the “Test to Stay” program recommended by the NYS Department of Health that several districts across the Capital Region have already put into place.
Both parents and administrators are hopeful this will be a partial solution to the consistent back and forth to virtual learning.
“I have been through 12 quarantines as of this point. The first one was in November of 2020,” Daneille Fontaine, mother of three Guilderland Elementary students, said. “It’s been a lot.”
Fontaine is a nurse practitioner at Albany Medical Center, and she said the quarantines required by the school have consistently disrupted her ability to work. So far, “Test to Stay” has been a saving grace.
“If they test negative, they can go back to their classroom as opposed to staying home for the time frame they had to previously,” Fontaine said.
Starting today, the City School District of Albany followed suit, similar to districts like Guilderland Central. Superintendent Kaweeda Adams said she hopes the new approach will keep students learning in-person after the district went fully remote on January 5.
“We had to go distance learning because we had a number of staff members who were out, and we needed to be able to cover classes,” Adams said.
The district is switching to a shortened 5-day quarantine protocol for all students except for those in pre-kindergarten and adding the State Department of Health’s recommended “test to stay protocols.
“The state Department of Health has us on a schedule of receiving those test kits, and with that, and those protocols, we feel like it really does help us,” Adams said.
The superintendent for the Guilderland Central School District, Dr. Marie Wiles, said the new protocols are helping students and parents alike.
“We have 181 students since we began “Test to Stay” two weeks ago who were able to be in school who would have otherwise been out of school under quarantine,” Wiles said.
Wiles said most parents, like Fontaine, have been pleased with the new program. However, some parents have had issue with the quarantine not changing for after-school activities under state guidelines.
“If they have an after-school sport or ski club or intermural or chorus, they cannot partake in those activities,” Fontaine said.
The NYS Department of Health recommends that “Test to Stay” only applies to the classroom, and children still have to quarantine outside of school instruction regardless of a positive test result. Wiles is hopeful the department will reconsider this recommendation to keep up social interaction for students better.