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FAQs About Governor Cuomo’s
Micro-cluster Strategy for COVID-19 & Testing
Will schools close again to in-person instruction?
According to New York State Department of Health guidance document dated December 4, 2020, New York State recognizes that safely keeping pre-kindergarten through grade 12 schools open for in-person instruction is critical to student success and parent stability. In alignment with international and national experts, the State is committed to allowing schools to remain open as long as a school's infection rate is under control and remains under the infection rate of the community at large, particularly for younger students (i.e., Pre-K to Grade 8). In fact, schools have reported nearly 500,000 test results of students, faculty, and staff since September with approximately 13,000 on-site positive cases, yielding a low positivity rate of 2.6%.
Why are schools remaining open now when in the spring they were closed by executive order?
We know more now about COVID than we did in the spring and we have protocols in place that are working to prevent spread. In addition, Governor Cuomo’s Micro-cluster Initiative is a science-based approach that focuses on addressing clusters of COVID-19 cases and aims to prevent further community-wide transmission of the virus. The micro-cluster initiative is intended to enable schools to safely remain open in spite of local surges in COVID-19 cases. A key component of this micro-cluster strategy is precautionary COVID-19 testing for students and staff.
How does the Micro-cluster Initiative work?
The initiative divides clusters and the areas around them into three categories - the cluster itself (red zone), a warning zone (orange zone), and a precautionary zone (yellow zone). Areas become color-specific zones based upon metrics established by the New York State Department of Health.
Who determines the designations of Yellow, Orange or Red zones?
New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) makes the determination.
What determines the color designations?
The NYSDOH uses various metrics, such as infection rate, number of positive cases, number of available hospital beds, number of ICU beds and availability of doctors and nurses to classify a region as yellow, orange or red.
Who will be tested?
Along with students, faculty, staff and administrators will also be tested. Depending on the Zone color this could be 20% or 30% of all the in-person population. We will secure parental consent prior to testing any student.
Is testing required?
No, we do not wish to mandate testing for anyone and hope to have sufficient volunteers to meet NYSDOH guidelines. However the community’s cooperation is necessary. If Sayville School District does not have enough volunteers (20% or 30% of the in-person population of students, faculty, staff and administrator, depending on the zone), the district will be forced to close schools to in-person instruction.
How can I volunteer to be tested?
A survey has been sent out to solicit volunteers.
As a volunteer may I be tested by my own doctor or lab?
You may be tested by your doctor or a private lab, but you must be tested during the timeframe required by the District to complete the testing and show a negative result.
What if I do not want my child tested?
Only students with consent from their parents or guardians will be tested.
What type of COVID-19 test will be administered?
The Suffolk County Department of Health Services (DOH) will provide school districts with
Abbott’s BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag card.
Is this test dangerous or risky?
This rapid test requires a gentle and shallow swab on the inside of each nostril. It is relatively painless, and should not be confused with the more invasive and uncomfortable PCR test.
Who will administer this test?
Trained nurses will administer and interpret the BinaxNOW COVID test. There is a possibility that the test will be administered entirely by Sayville nurses, SCDOHS nurses or a combination of both.
When will we know the results of the test?
The Rapid Test gives results within 15 minutes.
Who will know my test results?
Adherence to all FERPA and HIPPA regulations makes this information confidential information.
Where will this testing take place?
The District is planning for different scenarios depending on circumstances. Tests may be conducted over the course of two days in one central location such as Sayville Middle School or Sayville High School. The SCDOHS will alert us to the need to conduct testing. At that point we will be informed of what resources will be needed. All procedures will adhere to DOH guidelines for health and safety.
What will happen if a student tests positive?
Any student testing positive will be discreetly isolated until a parent is able to take the student home. Faculty, staff or administrators testing positive will immediately leave the building to return home.
I have heard the CDC has reduced the numbers of required quarantine days.
The CDC has issued new guidelines regarding the length of quarantine of individuals who have been in close contact with a positive COVID-19 case; however, the NYS DOH has yet to adopt these guidelines. Individuals in NYS are still subject to the 14-day quarantine in the event of close contact. We will notify the community if the NYS DOH and SCDOHS update this protocol.