The New York City Department of Education has announced a controversial plan to initiate random monthly Covid-19 testing on students in public schools, including those in Staten Island, and they’re asking parents to cooperate.
“Our testing partners will test a randomly selected group of staff and students in schools once per month. The number of children and staff to be tested each month will depend on the size of the school population” the DOE said this week in a letter addressed to New York City families. “In addition to the random monthly testing, we are also working hard to offer in-school testing later this year for students who are showing symptoms of Covid-19, or are a confirmed close contact of someone in the school who has tested positive.”
The letter was signed by the commissioner of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the executive director of NYC Test & Trace Corps, and NYC DOE Chancellor Richard Carranza.
Testing will not be performed on students without written parental consent. Although they haven’t officially labeled consent mandatory, the DOE says students who do not have consent forms on file may be required to learn remotely if not enough forms have been received by the school.
They also insist the test is not like the more invasive one used in regular testing. “Instead of the ‘long swab’ that goes in the back of the nose, this test is a short, small swab (like a Q-Tip) that goes just in the front of the nose. Later this school year, it is possible that tests will be administered by collecting a small amount of saliva (spit).”
Research has shown that otherwise healthy school-aged children are not at a very high risk for Covid-19 complications, and that the majority of young Covid-19 patients recover quickly.
The DOE argues that children can be carriers of the virus, and in schools it can spread quickly. “Keeping school buildings open depends on helping us stay aware of and take immediate action to address Covid-19 concerns in our buildings,” they said.
Still, the seemingly overwhelming majority of parents in Staten Island and surrounding boroughs remain furious over the testing. We reached out to our readers via Facebook to get their take on the hotly debated plan.
“If they want to test my children, they should let me come up and hold their hands. I have no problem having them tested if they are symptomatic but a parent should be there. We don’t drop our children off at the dr’s office and let them get tests or examined without a parent.” –Facebook User Jennifer LoDolce Mingoia
“This is one of the reasons I decided to home school this year. There wasn’t any way I was going to put my kids through that every time they get the sniffles.” –Facebook User Erin Riley-Caputo
However, some parents are onboard with the testing, citing the need to control the spread in schools.
“It doesn’t bother me as much as everyone else. I guess because I don’t think my son will be bothered by a nasal swab. I just want the kids in school as safety as possible. Testing / tracing is important.” –Facebook User Alexis Leary
How do you feel about Covid-19 testing in schools? Do you agree it’s necessary to help stop the spread of coronavirus? Or, like many other parents in Staten Island, do you view it as a violation of your child’s rights? Join the conversation on Facebook to share your thoughts!
Wondering if Covid-19 is in your child’s school? Use this tool to find out if there have been any confirmed cases. You can search by public school, charter schools, private schools and colleges.
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