Scarsdale, Edgemont schools have no current ‘Test to Stay’ plans | Coronavirus | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #schools

Though Test to Stay in school was approved by the Westchester County Department of Health on Thursday, Dec. 9, neither the Scarsdale nor Edgemont school districts have adopted the optional program to keep unvaccinated, asymptomatic students who had a COVID-19 exposure in school, while some other local districts have already successfully begun the testing of eligible students.

Under Test to Stay (TTS), eligible students can test daily for seven days in order to continue attending school. The release from quarantine is for school only and does not apply to activities after hours. Students are supposed to return home after school to quarantine. If a student tests negative for seven straight days, they no longer have to test to stay in school, but are still quarantined for the 10-day period after school and on weekends.

Should a TTS student develop COVID-19 symptoms, even if the test comes back negative, they are removed from TTS and must attend school remotely until released from quarantine. If a student has another exposure, the seven-day period starts again.

In an email to the community on Dec. 14, Scarsdale Assistant Superintendent for Special Education and Student Services Eric Rauschenbach said the district saw a “major rise in cases and quarantines from outside contacts … with no sign of slowing.”

The next day, Dec. 15, Superintendent Dr. Thomas Hagerman sent an email saying there is a community feedback struggle between “requests to lessen requirements to pleas for more stringent measures.”

Regarding Test to Stay, Hagerman wrote: “Recently, the NYS Department of Health has allowed local health departments to determine whether they will allow three changes to quarantine regulations: (1) test to stay, (2) test out of quarantine, and (3) the use of antigen tests for vaccinated individuals who are symptomatic and need a test to return to school. We are currently awaiting final determination by the Westchester County Department of Health with regard to these changes and expect to have more information when we return from break.”

Hagerman and Rauschenbach were unable to respond to a request for an interview during the school vacation this week, but the district’s public information officer Michelle Verna emailed the Inquirer, “We have no update at this time. Updates will be shared when they are available, which will likely be closer to January 3.” In a follow-up email from the Inquirer with a request to “understand what Scarsdale’s hold-up was that other districts didn’t seem to have to contend with,” Verna replied, “There is no ‘hold up.’ The situation will be evaluated as we get closer to January 3, and appropriate guidance will be issued then.”

It remains unclear what information Scarsdale was waiting for.

Board of Education president Karen Ceske also did not return a message requesting an interview by press time.

Edgemont Superintendent Dr. Victoria Kniewel sent a letter to the community on Dec. 20 citing “an uptick” in COVID cases with eight students and three staff members testing positive last week. She said the district is “exploring” the Test to Stay option. “We will keep you informed of our exploration into this possibility,” she wrote.

Kniewel did not return a message for a request for an interview prior to press time.

By the numbers

Last week, Bronxville schools closed down early for vacation and Mount Vernon announced its schools would go remote until Jan. 18 as cases rise.

According to the state’s COVID-19 case tracker for schools, Scarsdale, on its last reporting date of Dec. 17 prior to its two-week vacation, had 135 total cases this school year, with a large uptick in December. Among that number were 106 students, 10 teachers and 19 staff. The high school alone had 57 students test positive.

Though a much smaller school, Edgemont, as of Dec. 21, had extremely low numbers of COVID positive cases, with 27 students, seven teachers and seven staff throughout the district. Twelve of the students were from the junior/senior high school, 11 from Seely Place Elementary School.

Looking at the surrounding districts:

• Eastchester as of Dec. 20: 132 students (53 high school, 27 middle school), 14 teachers, 5 staff.

• Greenburgh CSD as of Dec. 21: 64 students (26 at Woodlands High School), 10 teachers, eight staff.

• Mamaroneck as of Dec. 21: 153 students (34 high school, 28 middle school), 23 teachers, 12 staff.

• New Rochelle as of Dec. 20: 146 students, 9 teachers, 10 staff.

• White Plains as of Dec. 21: 86 students, 31 teachers, nine staff.

These numbers do not include the impact they may have had on others who are either quarantining and teaching/learning remotely or having to get tested in order to be in school due to potential exposure.

January Regents canceled

The New York State Board of Regents this week canceled its January Regents exams. “We applaud the Board of Regents and Commissioner Rosa for making this difficult decision,” said NYS PTA President Dana Platin. “As a classroom school-related professional, daily I see the impact COVID is having on our students and educators. This is the right decision for student, educator, and staff safety, and the right decision to help with continued educational inequities related to COVID in our schools.”

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