The Rye City School District will begin the implement COVID-19 surveillance testing next week. The move was announced at Tuesday night’s board of education meeting by schools boss Eric Byrne, who also issued a plea to the community to follow COVID-19 guidelines to reduce the transmission of the virus that continues its path of destruction.
Immediately, the surveillance testing is a proactive measure to identify positive cases and create a measure of positive cases in the school community. Tracey Barnett, Director of Health Services, made the point that the majority of cases in the district have been asymptomatic, so proactive surveillance testing represents a way to capture these cases to reduce spread.
It also places the schools ahead of the game in the event the State requires such tests as part of any future “cluster zone” designation. If Rye were to be under certain cluster zone designations, a 5% weekly testing sampling capability showing low positive rates would be required to keep schools open.
The schools secured the COVID surveillance testing kits back in November, at the same time becoming a licensed testing facility. The schools aim to test 5% of the school population each week. A testing facility will run from the school administration headquarters on Theodore Fremd Avenue and a sign-up process will be available online. Based on a testing opt-in process run before the holidays, the district is confident it will have more than enough participation in testing.
The Bahamas and a Plea for Help
Explaining “the numbers are staggering”, Rye schools boss Eric Byrne began the meeting with an update on the Rye Middle School closure expressing concern this has occurred even though new State rules now have a more limited impact on those subject the quarantine. Using the middle school as an example, it can operate in person learning with up to fifteen teachers out, but anything over that number requires closure (the number is currently 17 teachers impacted by quarantine).
“I’m not sure I could be more desperate than I am right now,” said Byrne after describing hearing of an alleged out of school student trip to the Bahamas being planned for this spring. “I find situations like this to be extremely frustrating as I am the point person who bears much of the brunt for school closures and I fear this trip has the potential to lead to yet another school closing.”
“There is only so much my colleagues and I in the schools can do to keep the buildings open. We need the community’s help, cooperation and understanding.”
Board of Education President Jennifer Boyle echoed the sentiment saying “This is really a community effort to help curb transmission and follow the guidelines.”
You can watch the school board meeting (the Superintendent’s report is at 0:00:25 and the surveillance testing discussion begins at 1:05:40).
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