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North country schools waiting for guidance on at-home COVID tests

Published: Dec. 23, 2021 at 5:23 PM EST
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MASSENA, New York (WWNY) - North country schools have few details, so far, on the at-home COVID tests for students promised by Governor Kathy Hochul.

But the schools welcome anything that can help them keep the doors open, and students in class.

Some supplies for at-home COVID tests have arrived at St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES. What’s missing is guidance for the schools on how they should be distributed and used.

“We haven’t yet received any specific direct information how this program is going to work. How it will be distributed. How the information will be received,” said Patrick Brady, Superintendent of Massena Central Schools.

BOCES confirms it has received no specific directives from the state. Hochul says the tests are for students in classes where someone tests positive. Students with close contact will be able to come back to school if they test negative – instead of automatically quarantining. It’s a goal school officials share.

“We know that’s very disruptive to our families, to our communities, to our school,” Brady said.

Massena schools experienced one of their largest outbreaks of the pandemic last week. 46 students and staff tested positive. More than 100 students and staff are now quarantining. Other schools are also experiencing outbreaks.

Other than take-home tests, students will see a renewed emphasis on getting staff and students vaccinated, when they return to school.

“It is the most productive measure to reduce the spread of COVID and to keep people out of disruptive quarantines,” Brady said.

BOCES officials say they presume the testing program will be run through county public health. But so far, they’ve received no information on that either.

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