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COVID-19 Screenings, Testing, and Contact Tracing

Jump to:  Screenings  |  Testing and Contact Tracing  |  FAQs
 

Screenings

All students and staff are required to complete a health screening before reporting to school/work each day. Any visitor that plans on being in a district building for longer than five minutes must also complete a brief screening prior to entering.

Student Screenings
State guidance requires mandatory daily health screenings of students attending school for in-person instruction. The ICSD has licensed the Frontline Health Portal to allow parents/caregivers to conduct their children's daily health screenings on a secure, remote platform before they go to school each morning.

The screening asks questions regarding student testing status, symptoms, and exposures. If you check any of the boxes on the screening for your child, your child must stay home. The date on which your child can then return to school depends on their risk factors, as outlined in our Protocol for Students Returning to School.

Staff Screenings
In conjunction with Cayuga Health, the ICSD developed a daily COVID-19 health screening website that allows employees to easily confirm that they are symptom-free and have not recently tested positive for or been exposed to someone with COVID-19. (Note: Individuals who are fully vaccinated or had COVID-19 in the past 90 days will now be exempt from quarantining after an exposure.)

Employees that do not complete the daily health screening or who "screen red" are not permitted to report to work, and the date on which they can return depends on their risk factors, as outlined in our Protocol for Staff Returning to Work.

Visitor Screenings
Any visitor that plans on being in a district building for longer than five minutes must complete a brief screening prior to entering. The screening asks for contact information, as well as questions regarding testing, exposures, and symptoms.
 

Testing and Contact Tracing

As a district, we play a role in identifying those in our school community who have symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, and those who have had known or potential exposure to the virus, and in supporting the Tompkins County Health Department with its testing and contact tracing efforts.

ICSD Surveillance Testing Program
On January 4, the Ithaca City School District began a voluntary COVID-19 surveillance testing program for students and staff, using a non-invasive form of antigen testing. Although our district has not been identified as a Yellow Zone per the New York State Cluster Action Initiative, we follow those guidelines and test 20% of in-person students and staff at each school over two-week periods. The testing is not mandatory, and staff/caregiver consent is required.
Free Testing for Tompkins County Residents
Free COVID-19 testing is currently available for any Tompkins County resident through the Cayuga Health System, and residents are no longer required to meet the previous criteria for testing. The Cayuga Health System operates several local sampling site locations:
  • The Shops at Ithaca Mall, 40 Catherwood Road
    Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
    Saturday and Sunday, 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
  • Downtown, 412 N. Tioga Street
    Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Cayuga Medical Center, 101 Dates Drive
    Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Appointments are required. Visit the Cayuga Health System website for more information:
Positive Cases in the School Community
As cases are confirmed within the ICSD, we determine the level of closure in consultation with the local health department. “Cohorting” practices (the amount of intermingling among groups) dictate whether a classroom, grade level, wing of a school building, or entire school will transition to full distance learning. Those individuals who test positive are notified by the Tompkins County Health Department and receive instructions regarding isolation, additional testing, and quarantine.

Reporting Positive Cases: The ICSD reports positive cases for both in-person and distance learners, as well as all staff members, for each of our schools on a daily basis. You may check this information on the NYS COVID-19 School Report Card Dashboard (click on "public schools" and search for "Ithaca City SD").

Click on the images below to learn more about what happens when a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, or when a student or staff member receives a positive antigen test through our surveillance testing program. For additional information, view our Protocol for Students Returning to School and Protocol for Staff Returning to Work.

Confirmed COVID-19 Case
confirmed case flowchart
Positive Antigen Result
positive antigen case flowchart
 
Contact Tracing
When someone tests positive for COVID-19, the local health department immediately begins a contact investigation. When an ICSD student or employee tests positive, we uphold their right to privacy and confidentiality to the greatest extent possible, while also supporting any contact investigation by the local health department. Unless the health department contacts you or your child, you are not identified as close or proximate contacts, and thus, you do not need to quarantine.

Contacts of Contacts: Per NYSDOH guidance, anyone who is a contact of someone who has been in close or proximate contact with a positive case is considered a “contact of a contact.” These individuals are not at risk for infection and would not be subject to quarantine unless the individual they had contact with had or developed symptoms, or tested positive.

Check out our contact tracing infographic and the TCHD's video on contract tracing below to learn more!

contact tracing infographic
Click to enlarge
 

FAQs

How do staff health screenings work?
How do student health screenings work?
When can students and staff return after answering "yes" to any of the questions on the daily health screening?
What happens if a student or employee develops symptoms related to COVID-19 during the school day?
Will the district conduct and/or require testing of students and staff?
How else can students/staff get tested?
What if a student or staff member receives a positive antigen test result?
What if a student or employee tests positive for COVID-19?
Will the district notify families and staff if a student or employee tests positive?
How will I know if I/my child was exposed to a student or employee that tested positive?
How are close and proximate contacts determined? 
What about "contacts of contacts"?
Will schools close if there are positive cases among students or staff?
 
How do staff health screenings work?
In conjunction with Cayuga Health, the ICSD has developed a daily COVID-19 health screening website that allows staff and substitutes to easily confirm that they are symptom-free, have not recently tested positive for or been exposed to someone with COVID-19, and have not traveled internationally or from a state on the New York State Travel Advisory list. Employees that do not complete the daily health screening or who "screen red" are not permitted to report to work. Staff Daily COVID-19 Health Screening>>
 
How do student health screenings work?
Every morning, caregivers log in to the Frontline Health Portal desktop or mobile app to complete the daily health screening questionnaire for each of their children before they go to school. (School staff will take the temperature of any student for whom a completed screening is lacking.) If a caregiver answers in the affirmative to any of the questions on the health screening, their child is not permitted to attend school in person that day, and we ask that they contact a health care provider for further direction. Student Daily COVID-19 Health Screening>>
 
When can students and staff return after answering "yes" to any of the questions on the daily health screening?
The date on which students and employees can return to school/work after answering in the affirmative to any of the health screening questions depends on their risk factors (symptoms, known exposures, test results, etc.), as outlined in our Protocol for Students Returning to School and our Protocol for Staff Returning to Work.
 
What happens if a student or employee develops symptoms related to COVID-19 during the school day?
Students and staff who develop symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 during the school day will be assessed by the school nurse, and those with a temperature of 100.0°F (37.78°C) or higher, signs of illness, and/or a positive response to the screening questionnaire will be directed to a dedicated isolation area before being picked up or otherwise sent home.
 
Will the district conduct and/or require testing of students and staff?
On January 4, the Ithaca City School District began a voluntary COVID-19 surveillance testing program for students and staff, using a non-invasive form of antigen testing. Although our district has not been identified as a Yellow Zone per the New York State Cluster Action Initiative, we follow those guidelines and test 20% of in-person students and staff at each school over two-week periods. The testing is not mandatory, and staff/caregiver consent is required. View our testing program overview and FAQs for more information.
 
How else can students/staff get tested?
Free COVID-19 testing is currently available for any Tompkins County resident through the Cayuga Health System, and residents are no longer required to meet the previous criteria for testing. The Cayuga Health System operates several local sampling site locations:
  • The Shops at Ithaca Mall, 40 Catherwood Road
    Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
    Saturday and Sunday, 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
  • Downtown, 412 N. Tioga Street
    Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Cayuga Medical Center, 101 Dates Drive
    Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Appointments are required. Visit the Cayuga Health System website for more information.
 
What if a student or staff member receives a positive antigen test result?
When a student or staff member receives a positive antigen test result through our surveillance testing program, all students and staff in that class, as well as other close contacts (e.g., siblings), are sent home as quickly as possible and transition to distance learning. The individual who tested positive seeks follow-up PCR testing for confirmation.
  • If the PCR test result is positive, the cohort continues full distance learning until the mandatory quarantine/isolation period is over.
  • If the PCR test result is negative, the cohort may immediately return for in-person/hybrid instruction.
View our Surveillance Testing in Our Schools flowchart to learn more about what happens when a student or staff member receives a positive antigen test result.
 
What if a student or employee tests positive for COVID-19?
When a student or employee tests positive for COVID-19, we uphold their right to privacy and confidentiality to the greatest extent possible, while also supporting any contact investigation by the Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD). As partners in this effort, we share information with local health officials so they can communicate with people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

News of a confirmed case may generate anxiety and concern, so it is important to be clear how the TCHD handles communication with individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19: 

  • The health department is notified of any positive cases.
  • The health department conducts a contact investigation by interviewing the person who tested positive in order to identify close and/or proximate contacts.
  • Nurses from the health department notify those identified as contacts to provide support and guidance on issues like quarantine and testing.
If the health department does not notify you/your child, then you are not considered a close or proximate contact and do not need to quarantine or be tested for COVID-19. For additional information on what to do if you are a "contact of a contact," please review the NYS Department of Health's guidance.
 
Will the district notify families and staff if a student or employee tests positive?
The district communicates with families and staff regarding confirmed cases that have had in-school contacts only. When doing so, we will not provide identifying information of individuals who are seeking care, undergoing testing, or subject to quarantine.

The district does not directly notify families or staff of cases that have had no in-school contacts, however, we report all positive cases for both in-person and distance learners, as well as all staff members, for each of our schools on a daily basis. Those who wish to stay informed about positive cases that have not had any in-school contacts are encouraged to regularly check the NYS COVID-19 School Report Card Dashboard (click on "public schools" and search for "Ithaca City SD").

View our Confirmed Cases in Our Schools flowchart to learn more about what happens when an in-person student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19.
 
How will I know if I/my child was exposed to a student or employee that tested positive?
When a student or employee tests positive for COVID-19, the Tompkins County Health Department communicates directly with anyone who is considered a close or proximate contact of that individual. Unless the health department contacts you or your child, you are not identified as contacts, and thus, you do not need to quarantine or be tested for COVID-19.
 
How are close and proximate contacts determined? 
During contact tracing, the TCHD makes every effort to determine any person that has come in close or proximate contact to the COVID-19 positive case. The following protocol is followed for PreK-12 settings:
  • In classrooms:
    • An individual is considered a close contact if they spend 10 minutes or more within 6 feet of a positive case. 
    • An individual is considered a proximate contact if they spend 60 minutes or more in an enclosed space with a positive case.
  • For non-classroom indoor settings
    • Everyone within 6 feet for over 10 minutes is considered a close contact even if they were wearing a mask. 
    • The TCHD considers a range of factors (e.g., number of people, activity, distance, size of the room, time in the room) when determining proximate contacts for non-classroom settings.
  • For outdoor sports and recess, close contacts are rare, identified on a case-by-case basis, and proximate contacts may not be applicable.
 
What about "contacts of contacts"?
Anyone who is a contact of someone who has been in close or proximate contact with a positive case is considered a “contact of a contact.” These individuals are not at risk for infection and would not be subject to quarantine unless the individual they had contact with had or developed symptoms, or tested positive. View the NYSDOH Guidance on "Contacts of Contacts" for more information.
 
Will schools close if there are positive cases among students or staff?
When a student or employee tests positive for COVID-19, we determine the level of closure in consultation with the Tompkins County Health Department. “Cohorting” practices (the amount of intermingling among groups) dictate whether a classroom, grade level, wing of a school building, or entire school will transition to full distance learning.

View our Confirmed Cases in Our Schools flowchart to learn more about what happens when an in-person student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19.