Jamestown Public Schools are preparing to send COVID-19 test kits home with students ahead of winter break.
Superintendent Dr. Kevin Whitaker updated the school board, saying Governor Kathy Hochul asked schools to distribute the tests prior to February break so the state could have test results as part of metrics they will look at in March for when they decide whether to change mask guidelines for schools.
Whitaker said what the district normally reports to the state are positive tests, “Meaning how many home tests have tested positive, how many tests have come to us as positive tests. We don’t report negative tests unless they’re given to us by one of our nurses. This is an opportunity for us, as the Governor has asked parents to test students before they return on the day they return, and later in that week. So not next week but the week after. So if we have a lot of negative tests, maybe that helps us with the mask decision that comes from the Governor.”
Board member Christine Schnars said as an officer with the New York State School Boards she had the opportunity to be on a call with Governor Hochul recently. She said the majority of the school officials on the call are hoping Hochul’s decision on mask mandates will be made statewide or on a regional basis, “Not leave it up to local, individual districts. Because it would be pretty hard as a local district for us to decide to keep masks on our kids if a neighboring district was taking them off.”
Whitaker explained how test kits will be distributed, “So parents who are parents of secondary kids can expect them to be coming home with their kids. Parents who are parents of elementary kids can either call and request to pick them up, can get them handed to them at drop off time, or they could say ‘safely send it home with my child.”
Whitaker added that it is not mandatory for parents to test their children, but those who do can call in the test results to the school.