Test to Stay and Test to Return to School

Dear MCS Families,

Please know that we have changed our COVID-19 protocols as a result of new guidance from the CDC and NYSDOH. We feel it will substantially increase the amount of time students are in school while providing a safe learning environment. 

Two major changes we are implementing are:
1. New Test to Stay (TTS) program
2. New protocols to return to school after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms

Optional Test to STAY Program

With parental permission, Test to Stay (TTS) allows asymptomatic, unvaccinated students who have been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive student to stay in school. 

As always, a parent and/or guardian has the right to quarantine their student instead of test, but this option helps to remove the burden of quarantine on families. 

  • Please note, the TTS program only applies to direct exposure at school. 
  • If a student is exposed to COVID-19 outside of the school setting, that student will be required to follow the quarantine protocol for contacts of a positive case established by Schoharie County Department of Health. 

How Test to STAY works

  • When a positive case is identified in school, normal contact tracing will take place. 
  • A school nurse will contact families of students who are considered a close contact of a COVID-19 positive individual. 
  • Participating students will be tested three times, or approximately every other day, during a five-day period following the exposure, as an alternative to the student having to quarantine during school hours. 
  • Testing to stay will be done each school day in the nurse’s office in each building before students go to their respective first-period classes. 
  • A negative test will keep students in school on a daily basis. If a student tests positive-they need to be picked up and taken home.

Who is eligible for the Test to STAY Program?

  • All MCSD unvaccinated students in grades Pre-K-12 who would be placed in quarantine because of a school-related COVID-19 exposure are eligible, provided they are asymptomatic.

Students who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days are not required to be quarantined and will not need to take part in the Test to Stay program during that 90-day period.

    If students and staff members are experiencing symptoms, they should not attend school

    We recognize that the symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to and can overlap with the symptoms of the flu, allergies or even a common cold. Whether or not COVID-19 related, there may be times when a student has symptoms, such as fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea. It is very important that students who are sick do not attend school. This simple act can go very far in preventing the possible spread of COVID-19 and is in the best interest of the entire MCS community.

    To obtain COVID-19 testing, families may:

    • utilize the at-home rapid test kits distributed by the school at the beginning of the year
    • contact the main office to request another at-home testing kit
    • visit a testing location near you
    • call to make an appointment at our School-Based Health Center call 518-827-3793
    • register for a free weekly LAB PCR COVID-19 test through our partnership with Schoharie Department of Health and Quadrant by using this link
    • order four free at-home COVID-19 tests through the federal government by visiting this site covidtests.gov 

    Test to RETURN to school for student/staff members with COVID-19 symptoms

    Regardless of vaccination status, if a student/staff member has COVID-19 symptoms they must be tested in order to return to school.

    Acceptable testing:

    • One lab negative NAAT, lab antigen test, OR
    • Two negative over-the-counter (OTC) antigen tests taken at home 36 hours apart.

    If the testing method you use is the OTC antigen tests, parents/guardians/staff members must also sign the following attestation proving the negative results. 

    In addition to negative test results, students/staff must be well enough to:

    • participate in school
    • not have rhinorrhea (runny nose) or cough severe enough to make mask wearing difficult or unhygienic
    • be fever-free for 24 hours without use of fever-reducing medications

    The following requirements remain in effect:

    • There is no exemption to the testing requirement for symptomatic students.
    • Students with symptoms that are attributable to pre-existing medical conditions (e.g. migraines, allergies) and are not new or worsening do not require school exclusion or testing.
    • If a healthcare provider makes a diagnosis of a confirmed non-COVID-19 acute illness (e.g. laboratory-confirmed influenza or strep throat) AND COVID-19 is not suspected, then a note signed by the healthcare provider explaining the alternate diagnosis may be provided to allow a student, teacher, or staff member to participate in school without COVID-19 testing.

    What “fully vaccinated” and “up-to-date” means

    According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

    • Students who are “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19 are those who have received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
    • Students who have received a COVID-19 booster dose and are eligible to do so,  are considered “up-to-date”.

    If exposed to COVID-19

    Up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations, as defined by the CDC 

    • They may come to school. 

    Tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days 

    • They may come to school.

    Not up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccination and has not tested positive in the last 90 days 

    • They will be excluded from school for at least five days after their last close contact with an individual with COVID-19.
    • However, if applicable, these individuals could be eligible for Test to Stay, which would allow them to stay in the school setting during the exclusion period.

      Close contacts WITH SYMPTOMS must QUARANTINE for a full five days:

      Day 0: Date of exposure.
      Day 1: Stay home.
      Day 2: Stay home.
      Day 3: Stay home.
      Day 4: Stay home.
      Day 5: Stay home.
      Day 6: Return to school as long as no symptoms have developed.

      Isolation and return to school 

      Tests positive for COVID-19:

      If a student/staff member tests positive for COVID-19 at any time, including following an exposure, the following guidelines apply:

      • Regardless of vaccination status, they must isolate for a full five days. 
      • They may return to school after day five if they are asymptomatic or if symptoms are resolving.
      • Anyone who is moderately or severely immunocompromised should follow the standard 10-day isolation guidance issued previously. 

      People who test positive must ISOLATE for a full five days:

      • Day 0: Date of exposure.
      • Day 1: Stay home.
      • Day 2: Stay home.
      • Day 3: Stay home.
      • Day 4: Stay home.
      • Day 5: Stay home.
      • Day 6: Return to school as long as no symptoms have developed.

      If the COVID-19 at-home antigen test is positive – parents/guardians/staff need to report the results to the local department of health and school nurse.

      • Report the results to the Schoharie County Department of Health by calling 518-295-8390 or by using this form
      • Report the results to your school nurse at 518-827-3600: Brittany Pickett for the ES (ext. 1686) and Jennifer Adams for the HS (ext. 2609)

      In order for students who have tested positive and have had symptoms to return to school after five days, they must:

      • Be fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication.
      • Have not lost their sense of taste or smell.
      • Have no runny nose. 
      • Have no more than an infrequent, nonproductive cough that is not getting worse. Students with a cough must be able to tolerate continuous mask use as breaks are not allowed.
      • Have not experienced excessive or unusual fatigue.
      • Have no persistent headache or muscle aches.
      • Have no nausea, diarrhea or vomiting for at least 24 hours.
      • Wear a well-fitting mask around others for a full 10 days following the first day of symptoms (or the date of a positive test, if the student is asymptomatic).
      Additional quarantine and isolation information can be found on the New York State Department of Health and CDC websites:

      I know that is a lot to take in, but I think we are heading in a good direction. Thank you for your continued partnership as we work to keep our students and staff healthy, and our students in school. If you have any questions or concerns about COVID-19 testing or other health and safety protocols, please do not hesitate to call.


      Brian Dunn
      Superintendent of Schools