NORFOLK — Norwood-Norfolk Central School Superintendent James Cruikshank says he’s receiving questions about the potential testing of students for COVID-19, but the information he’s receiving isn’t necessarily accurate.
“One is, ‘If I don’t consent (to the student’s testing), my kid can’t come to school,’ and that’s not accurate,” he told board of education members.
If the district is in an area that’s designated as a yellow microcluster zone by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, they’ll be required to test 20 percent of in-person students and staff within two weeks.
“I can’t test if their parents don’t consent. That doesn’t mean they can’t come to school. What the factor is that would keep them out of school is if I can’t get 20 percent to volunteer,” Mr. Cruikshank said.
In that case, the district would have to suspend all in-person instruction and move all students to remote instruction.
“We have great supportive families. They’re nervous about this. I understand it. I’m a dad. I’m nervous about it,” he said.
He said principals were already receiving consent forms and starting a spreadsheet.
“We’re going to be able to tell within a couple of days if we’re going to be able to reach that mark. What we’re hearing from other areas that have already done this is they’re getting way more than 20 percent,” he said. “If we want to continue to offer in-person instruction, we have to go through this process. I will tell you, I truly believe we need to continue to offer in-person instruction. We have to try to do what we can to keep our schools available for in-person learning. If we can keep them connected to adults as much as possible, I will tell you, and this is a shock statement I’m going to make, we will save lives. We already have, and we need to continue to do what we can.”
He said there was also a concern about the accuracy of the test, and if the person would need to quarantine if it came back positive.
“I’ve talked to Public Health. The test we’re going to be using, which is free from the government, is more likely to be a false negative than a false positive, but we will have to deal with that, too. If we have a positive, they’ll immediately be sent to have a more thorough test,” Mr. Cruikshank said.
He said it would not be the same test administered outside the school, but rather a swab that would go about an inch into each nostril, and the results would be known in about 15 minutes.
He said he will be creating a “Frequently Asked Questions” list that addresses those concerns, as well as others that he has heard.