New state guidance expands which COVID tests can be used for school protocols


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — New guidance issued Friday from the New York State Department of Health expands which kinds of COVID-19 tests can be used for school protocols.

The new guidance (full document below) gives local health departments and school districts the ability to authorize rapid COVID-19 tests as well as over-the-counter at-home tests for students and staff attempting to return to school activities following a known COVID exposure or the onset of symptoms.

The guidance also updates the school participation policy. Now all persons who develop COVID-19 symptoms, but have no known exposure, can participate in school activities following a negative COVID test regardless of vaccination status.

The state department of health does not prohibit the use of over-the-counter at-home COVID tests, which have emergency use authorization from the FDA, the new guidance says the state will allow local health departments or schools districts to use them based on considerations of benefits and drawbacks, including the possible condition of stricter criteria for COVID protocol should over the counter tests be allows. According to the guidance:

“The benefits of using OTC tests may include improved convenience, rapid turnaround times, and reduced barriers. Drawbacks may include lack of reporting to public health, inability to confirm the negative result was on a specimen collected from the symptomatic individual, and lack of an official test result (e.g. no printed result that can be provided as proof of eligibility to participate in school, no medical supervision, and no doctor’s note). If localities accept negative results from these OTC antigen tests for school purposes, they are responsible for determining what constitutes sufficient evidence of the negative result and advising the school community accordingly.”

These new policies will need to be adopted and approved by local health departments and schools should they be put in place.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza announced this week that the county would be making 750,000 rapid at-home COVID-19 tests available to county residents before the holidays. As of Friday, there are no updates to the schedule or distribution plans for these tests.

Full guidance

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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