State sending millions of Covid test kits for students to bring home

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 January 2022 at 11:05 am

So far this school year, 578 students and staff have tested positive for Covid in Orleans County

The state is sending millions of Covid tests to school districts throughout the state to give to students to take home.

The state is trying to identify Covid-positive students as school resumes following the holiday break amidst a record-breaking Covid surge. The state set records for four straight days from Tuesday through Friday for most new Covid cases in a day.

Gov. Kathy Hochul said the Covid testing kits are headed to every school district. Some districts have already received and others will get them very soon, Hochul said.

“So in the case where one of the classmates tests positive, everybody can take a test kit home in their backpack, come back the next day if they have a negative test, and get tested again in a couple of days,” Hochul said during a news briefing on Friday. “This is how we believe listening to the experts that this is the safest way to keep children in school.”

So far in the first four months of the school year there have been 578 students and staff who have tested positive for Covid at the five public school districts in Orleans County.

  • Albion reports 216 students, teachers and staff have tested positive. The 185 students include 32 in the middle school, 72 in high school and 81 in the elementary. There also were 9 teachers and staff who tested positive in the middle, 9 in the high school and 13 in the elementary. Albion has 1,758 students, 181 teachers and 95 other staff members. Of the 2,034 total students, teachers and staff, 10.6 percent have tested positive for Covid this school year.
  • Holley is reporting 95 have tested positive which includes 77 students (37 in elementary and 40 in junior-senior high school) and 12 teachers and 6 staff. That includes 10 teachers and four staff in elementary school, and two teachers and two staff in junior-senior high school. Holley has 960 students, 104 teachers and 76 other staff members. Of the 1,140 total students, teachers and staff, 8.3 percent have tested positive for Covid this school year.
  • Kendall reports 61 students, 7 teachers and 8 staff have tested positive for Covid since the start of the school year. That includes 28 students, 6 teachers and 6 staff in the elementary school, and 33 students, 1 teacher and 2 staff members in the junior-senior high school. Kendall has 693 students, 80 teachers and 47 other staff. Of the 820 students, teachers and staff, 9.3 percent have tested positive for Covid in the past four months.
  • Lyndonville reports 35 students, 12 teachers and 11 staff have tested positive. That includes 15 students, 5 teachers and 6 staff in the elementary school, and 20 students, 7 teachers and 5 staff in middle-high school. Lyndonville has 616 students, 76 teachers and 35 other staff members. Of that 727 total, 8.0 percent have tested positive for Covid.
  • Medina reports 112 students, 10 teachers and 11 staff have tested positive for Covid. In the elementary school that includes 25 students, 2 teachers and 5 staff. At the middle school it includes 33 students, 4 teachers and 5 staff members. In the high school that includes 54 students, 4 teachers and 1 staff member. Medina has 1,363 students, 137 teachers and 111 other staff. Of the 1,611 total for students, teachers and staff, 8.3 percent have tested positive for Covid.

The at-home Covid testing kits should allow more students to continue their education in person after the holiday season ends, Hochul said. She anticipates that January and February “will be very challenging” with the surge in Covid cases.

The state has ordered 37 million test kits and 5.3 million arrived last week. Another 6 million should be arriving on Monday. They will be available for free to students and their families.

Nick Picardo, Kendall’s school superintendent, ppsted a letter to the community on Saturday, saying the test kits “are being made available as a proactive measure to enhance school safety and protect against transmission of Covid-19.”

The test kits aren’t a mandate or requirement for students, Picardo said.

He will update the Kendall community on how the kits will be distributed once Kendall receives them.

Brian Bartalo, Holley school superintendent, also posted a letter to the community, saying the district will soon have the test kits and make them available for students to do Covid testing at home.

“As a reminder, these tests are free and will be available for every student, but they are not required,” Bartalo said in his letter. “Thank you to families for monitoring students’ health as we enter the new year and especially for not sending students to school if they are sick or have any Covid-19 symptoms.”