Despite the challenges of keeping in-person classes going, especially with a rise in COVID-19 cases this year, Wappingers Falls Superintendent Dr. Dwight Bonk credits Dutchess County’s "test to stay" program as the reason the district hasn’t had to switch to remote learning.

“It’s important that we do what we can to keep our students in school and our staff in school," Dr. Bonk said.

What You Need To Know

  • Dutchess County was one of the first counties to implement "test to stay" for schools

  • The initiative, aimed at keeping schools running in-person, is statewide

  • In Wappingers Falls, Superintendent Dr. Dwight Bonk says the initiative has kept more than 250 students in the classroom

Each morning during the school day, students and staff that have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID are tested.

“Within 15 minutes, they know the result of the test," Dr. Bonk said. "If they test negative, they go to school. Needless to say, if they test positive, then they need to quarantine.”

The superintendent says that this program is working to keep more kids in classes.

“We’ve been able to put well over 250 students back in the classroom that, under the old state Department of Health regulation, would’ve been required to quarantine for 10 to 14 days," he said.

County Executive Marc Molinaro recently wrote to Governor Kathy Hochul, asking for a state-wide implementation of "test to stay." Hochul announced later that the program will go statewide this month.

“If we can eliminate the requirement to send a child home, but instead keep them in a class, this is ought to be our priority," Molinaro said. "And it’s been Dutchess County’s priority for months now.”

Dr. Bonk says the success that "test to stay" had in Dutchess County can be replicated across New York to help kids get the in-person education that they need.

“It’s definitely one of the reasons why we’ve been able to continue our services from day one of the school year," he said. "And that’s as much in-person instruction for as many students as possible.”