HCSD COVID-19 Surveillance Testing
The Harrison Central School District is implementing several strategies to bring more students back for in-person instruction as soon as it is safe for students, faculty, and staff. One of these strategies involves conducting voluntary, minimally-invasive COVID-19 surveillance tests for a representative sample of our students, faculty and staff on a weekly basis. This FAQ answers questions that parents, faculty and staff may have about the COVID-19 surveillance testing initiative.
Why is the District conducting COVID-19 surveillance testing?
Surveillance testing of asymptomatic students, faculty and staff is one of several strategies to safely bring more students back for in-person instruction. By testing a representative sample of our students, faculty and staff on a weekly basis, the District can more effectively monitor for the presence of COVID-19 in our school community and minimize the risk that asymptomatic individuals who test positive will spread the virus to others.
When will the COVID-19 surveillance testing begin and how frequently will it occur?
The scheduling of on-site COVID-19 surveillance tests will begin in early March and continue on a weekly basis, with a different representative sample of our students and staff tested each week. Once a person is tested the first time, he/she will not be tested again until all participants have been tested at least once.
Who can participate in the voluntary COVID-19 surveillance testing?
The COVID-19 surveillance tests administered by the District are only for asymptomatic students, faculty and staff and are not meant for individuals who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. To participate in the COVID-19 surveillance testing program, parents of students, as well as faculty and staff, must complete a COVID-19 surveillance testing consent form. When participants voluntarily consent to participate in COVID-19 surveillance testing, they agree that:
The results will be shared with the department of health, as required.
Consent is valid for the 2020-21 school year.
Testing may occur more than once during the school year.
Parents, faculty or staff may revoke consent at any time.
Information collected in the consent form is required by the New York State Department of Health for the District to participate in free COVID-19 testing.
Is participation in COVID-19 surveillance testing required for students to return to school?
No, participation in COVID-19 surveillance testing is voluntary and students are not required to participate in testing to return to school. However, the more students who participate, the more effective the monitoring for the presence of COVID-19 in our school community will be.
Why does the COVID-19 testing consent form ask questions about race and ethnicity of participants?
In order to use the free test kits provided by the New York State Department of Health, the District is required to collect and report demographic data about participants, including information about participants' race and ethnicity. Information about test participants is confidential and only shared with the Department of Health, as required to participate in the COVID-19 surveillance testing program.
Which COVID-19 test will be used to conduct the surveillance tests?
The New York State Department of Health is providing BinaxNOW Rapid Antigen test kits at no cost to the District to conduct screening tests. This COVID-19 test is a minimally invasive nasal swab test that requires swabbing the inside of both nostrils (not the deep nasal swab test). Tests results are available in 15 minutes. While rapid antigen tests are not as reliable as molecular PCR tests for detecting the virus, they have proven effective to screen asymptomatic individuals. To watch a brief video to see how the test will be administered, CLICK HERE.
For individuals who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, a molecular PCR test is still required to confirm a COVID-19 diagnosis. Molecular PCR tests are not provided by the District but can be obtained from health care providers (e.g., physicians or walk-in clinics).
Who will administer the COVID-19 surveillance tests and interpret the results?
School district nurses will administer the tests and interpret the results. Our school nurses hold registered nursing licenses, the same credential as a nurse in a doctor’s office or hospital setting, and they have been trained in the process to administer the test and read the results under the direction of our school district physician.
How will participants find out when they have been selected to participate in COVID-19 surveillance testing?
Based on the consent that parents, faculty and staff have provided, a random sample of participants will be selected to participate in testing each week. Parents, faculty and staff will receive an email several days before the testing is scheduled to occur with more details (e.g., date, time, location, etc.).
How will those who participate in the COVID-19 surveillance tests find out the results?
The BinaxNOW Rapid Antigen test produces results within 15 minutes, and participants will be confidentially informed of the results as soon as they are available.
What happens if a COVID-19 surveillance test result is positive?
If a COVID-19 test result is positive, the school nurse will give the participant the WCDOH isolation guidelines (English/Spanish) and instruct them to go home and begin isolating immediately and contact his/her physician to seek a molecular PCR test to confirm the test results.
With whom are COVID-19 surveillance test results shared?
The District is required to report the results to the Westchester County Department of Health and the New York State Department of Health. Precautions are taken to ensure the confidentiality of the test results. The District will consult with the Westchester County Department of Health to determine action steps that may be required based on the positivity rates that result from the COVID-19 surveillance testing.
Who can I contact if I have other questions?
You may contact Dr. Brian Ladewig, the District’s COVID Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org; 914-630-3003, or your school nurse:
Harrison High School: Lisa Arlotta, 914-630-3123
Louis M. Klein Middle School: Susan Fiorenza, 914-630-3046
Harrison Avenue Elementary School: May Skoury, 914-630-3194
Parsons Memorial Elementary School: Tara Strempel, 914-630-3224
Samuel J. Preston Elementary School: Sharon Pistone, 914-630-3154
Purchase Elementary School: Linda Degelsmith, 914-630-3175