New York state has shared at-home COVID-19 test kits with the Fayetteville-Manlius School District to distribute to students before the February school break, which is Feb. 21-25.
Those kits will be given to all students in kindergarten through grade 12 today, Feb. 17. Families of students who are absent today may contact their student’s school main office to arrange to have a test kit sent home tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 18, or arrange to pick up the kit another day during regular school hours.
While families are not required to test their students after break using the at-home kits, New York Governor Kathy Hochul is encouraging families to test their children for the virus at the end of February break and again three days after their return to school as a strategy to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
On Feb. 9, Hochul announced that she was lifting the state’s face mask mandate for businesses but was waiting until after the February school break to assess data that would inform her decision on whether to lift or extend the face mask requirement for schools. Hochul said her decision would be based on such data as the number of new COVID-19 cases, percent positivity, hospital admissions, pediatric hospitalizations, vaccination rates and global trends.
Safe at-home test kit handling
The Upstate New York Poison Center reminds all families to use proper safety techniques when using at-home tests. Each kit includes potentially dangerous compounds in the small liquid bottles that are used to create the chemical reaction necessary to produce the test result, according to the poison center’s website. Many of the at-home test kits have low volumes of the toxic chemicals, meaning most people will not become severely ill from a single accidental exposure, the website states.
“These kits are a wonderful free resource for all families,” Upstate New York Poison Center Administrative Director Michele Caliva said. “We just want to remind families that the liquid bottles can look like other common household products like glue or even eye drops. Young kids could be drawn to the small bottle and could experience irritation. We want to help families avoid any potential poisonings.”
The poison center recommends that families take the following steps when they receive their at-home test kits:
- Remove the kit promptly from your student’s backpack.
- Store the kit, like all medications and household chemicals, up and out of sight and reach of children.
- Read kit instructions and follow directions to ensure accurate test results.
- When finished with the kit, dispose of it immediately.
Contact the Upstate New York Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 with any questions or concerns.
Additional test kits available
If a family needs to test their student after the Feb. 17 distribution and already used the tests distributed on that day, parents and guardians should call the main office of their child’s school to request an additional test kit. The kits can then be sent home with students or picked up by a parent or guardian during regular school daytime hours following the mid-winter recess.
The test kits are free for families and can be used at any time.
The district website details the process for return-to-school after an illness and what type of tests will be accepted by the district, as well as links to local testing locations.