IRONDEQUOIT, N.Y. (WROC) — Schools in the orange zone, including parts of the East Irondequoit, Brighton, and Rochester City School districts, will close on Thursday. They have to stay closed for four days and can reopen if they test 100% of in-person students and staff and only allow negative tests to return.
Three schools in the East Irondequoit district fall under the orange zone, which is 816 students total. The other three schools in the district will stay open. Communications director Dave Yates said they’ve already posted time slots for families in the orange zone schools to sign up to get their kids tested, which includes Laurelton Pardee, Helendale Road, and East Irondequoit Middle School.
Yates said they plan to reopen Tuesday and to reach that goal, drive-thru testing will run on Saturday and Monday outside Laurelton Pardee and East Ridge High School. Yates said several families have already signed up online.
“We thought providing the opportunity for families to come to us and get it done, they don’t have to leave the car we go out and swab them in the car, it’s rapid results, the non-invasive one,” Yates said.
He said 61% of the 861 students consented to testing back when the district was designated in the yellow zone and he thinks that number will grow as the week goes on. If a student isn’t tested, they can’t return to school during the orange zone.
The non-consenting will move to a remote instruction which we have in place in the district anyway. We have some teachers that are dedicated to just remote instruction we don’t want to overburden them by putting too many kids in their classroom,” Yates said. “There’s some logistics we still have to figure out once we get the numbers going and may have to do some reshuffling.”
Yates said employees and families have been understanding.
“You put the call out for Saturday you want to do testing and we had so many people from our district saying, ‘where do you need me, what do you need me to do?’ It’s a holiday weekend and they’re willing to come in. We just want everybody back in our buildings in as many numbers and as safely and as soon as possible.”
He said the county has already given them the number of tests they’ll need to begin on Saturday.
Those three orange zone schools will have to continue testing 25% of students each week until they move out of the orange zone. He also said this experience has prepared them in case the whole district goes to orange in the future.
Meanwhile, the Brighton school district is asking the state for flexibility on the 100% testing requirement. They don’t have enough remote learning capacity to add the students who opted out of testing and are asking families who said, ‘no’ to reconsider. The superintendent said this in a post on the website:
“Wednesday evening we will reevaluate the number of students who have not provided consent and our limited capacity in the remote setting. If it is possible to accommodate all non-consenting families in the remote setting, then we will communicate details regarding a testing program to begin on Monday, Nov. 30.”