ICSD Community Letter Re: School-Based Testing, Contact TracingSeptember 28, 2021
Dear ICSD Community,
We are grateful to have students and colleagues back in our physical spaces, engaging in meaningful teaching and learning amid the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19. I am inspired by our Ithaca City School District team, whose appreciation for being in community with one another and quest for social-justice-focused learning are cultivating joy with kids and adults. It’s an energizing time.
To keep the positive momentum going in our school district, it will be important for us to periodically revisit and evolve our health and safety protocols. Some important updates and new information include:
In-house symptomatic COVID-19 testing began last week. Thank you for providing consent for your child to be tested before they leave school when/if they become symptomatic at school. Search your email for a customized link for your child from email@example.com if you wish to provide consent. This is an anterior nares sample (swab at the front of each nostril, not far-reaching up the nasal cavity) that students can administer themselves or with the help of a nurse.
New York State now requires us to increase screening testing capacity to weekly for every student with caregiver consent. Last year, we tested 10% of in-person students each week. This is a significant increase in our testing program that has required swift action and resources. We now plan to partner with a federally contracted organization, Affinity Empowering, to administer high volumes of student testing. To participate, you must register with Affinity Empowering.
While increasing our in-house testing capacity, we continue to support the Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) in their contact tracing efforts. The TCHD is the only entity that can quarantine or isolate individuals, and we provide information to them regarding close contacts. You can find the TCHD’s updated school guidance regarding close contacts here. Please know that there are student and staff privacy laws that don’t allow us to share certain information, especially that which would reveal the identities of COVID-19 positive individuals to others. Thank you for your understanding and support.