Dozens of schools across Erie County have officially adopted a program meant to keep students in the classroom.

What You Need To Know

  • The Erie County Department of Health announced schools can participate in a ‘Test to Stay’ Program 
  • In the event of a COVID exposure, unvaccinated students can take a COVID test in order to stay in class. If negative and remain asymptomatic, they can stay. If positive, they have to isolate. Vaccinated and asymptomatic students do not have to be tested
  • Superintendents said this program saved more than 300 students from having to unnecessarily quarantine over the course of about six weeks
  • School districts must opt-in and parents must consent to their child's participation

A total of 16 districts and 11 private schools are taking part in the ‘Test to Stay’ Program.

Students who are exposed to a person with COVID-19 can now avoid home quarantine as long as they test negative and remain symptom free.

This came after Grand Island Central School District launched a pilot program in December. Superintendent Brian Graham said between Dec. 6, 2021 and Jan. 13, 2022, the district tested 337 of its more than 2,800 students. Of those tests, 333 came back negative, which he said saved more than 2,000 hours of lost in-person class time due to quarantine.

“I think it puts an exclamation point on why we’ve been advocating for this program," said Graham. “If you’re healthy, coming to school asymptomatic, coming to school healthy is what we expect everybody to do.”

County health leaders say school staff members are also eligible for the program.

Participating schools will work closely with the Erie County Health Department Epidemiology School team to coordinate data and testing reporting.  

Graham said now he hopes the New York State Department of Health will allow students who test negative to participate in not only the academic school day, but also their extracurriculars. 

“Let kids enjoy the full day beyond the academic day," said Graham. "Let kids go to their extracurriculars and their sports ... because that’s really what hooks sometimes students to school."

Participating schools and school districts include:

  • Alden Central School District
  • Akron Central School District
  • Amherst Central School District
  • Clarence Central School District
  • Cleveland Hill UFSD
  • Eden Central School District
  • Erie 1 BOCES
  • Frontier Central School District
  • Grand Island Central School District
  • Iroquois Central School District
  • Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda UFSD
  • Lackawanna City School District
  • Lancaster Central School District
  • Sweet Home Central School District
  • Tonawanda City Schools
  • Williamsville Central School District
  • West Seneca Central School District
  • Bishop Timon - St. Jude High School
  • Buffalo Seminary
  • Canisius High School
  • Christian Central Academy
  • Mount Mercy Academy
  • Nardin Academy
  • The Park School of Buffalo
  • Sacred Heart Academy
  • St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute
  • South Buffalo Charter School
  • Tapestry Charter School