ITHACA, N.Y — The results are in from Ithaca City School District’s entry testing program last week, showing no positives among students tested in advance of in-person classes, which began on Monday.
The testing program was designed to detect what kind of precautionary measures would need to be taken in order introduce students into classrooms as safely as possible during the coronavirus pandemic. Superintendent Dr. Luvelle Brown said on Tuesday that no students had tested positive during the testing, which took place over four days. One adult did test positive, out of 35 who were tested.
In total, 615 tests were administered to students, 509 at the regular site behind the Shops at Ithaca Mall and 106 at a pop-up site on Saturday at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center. Brown called the results “terrific news.” The district had delayed the start of in-person classes until Oct. 5 in order to better outfit its buildings, utilizing all virtual learning since Sept. 13. According to previously reported figures from the district, about half of the district’s 5,200 students were slated to return to in-person classes.
According to the state’s COVID report card website, the positive test was an on-site teacher at South Hill Elementary School—however, because students were not in classrooms prior to last week, it seems unlikely that the teacher had close contact with students before testing positive. Brown said the district had not been contacted regarding any contact tracing process in association with the case.
The district announced last week that 1,212 tests were available for students before classes began in-person, prioritizing students who would be coming into school buildings for lessons (and whose parents did not already have access to testing) as opposed to those who have chosen distance learning for the fall grading period. The 1,212 tests were provided by a combined effort of Cornell University and Cayuga Health System; Brown said he isn’t sure what will happen with the excess tests that were allotted to the district.
“We have not yet determined what will happen next,” Brown said. “We are grateful for the generous support from Cornell and CMC. The availability of testing will depend on them largely.”
A request for comment from Cayuga Health Systems about what they intend to do with any excess testing availability left over from last week has not yet been answered.
The district did not require students, teachers or staff members to receive tests before returning to school, though Tompkins County residents are still eligible to receive free testing through county funding.
Last week, Groton School District encountered a situation in which a student was positive for COVID-19 and led to the quarantining of four teachers and over 30 students.