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COVID tests begin for city teachers

The Dunkirk school district is doing COVID-19 testing off-site, opting not to use self-tests.

Superintendent Michael Mansfield told the Board of Education this week the self-tests, which are commercially available under the name BinaxNOW, were made available to the district by health authorities.

However, “talking to our school nurses, they thought it would be best if we forego Binax and take advantage of rapid PCR testing at BOCES,” he said.

He said that when someone has COVID-19 symptoms, a nurse will email coordinators of the program, located at BOCES’ LoGuidice Center in Pomfret, to set up an appointment with the person.

In the case of a student, their parent or guardian would get contacted for the appointment. Testing is done at the center every Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Mansfield went on to say that pool testing for unvaccinated staff members started Thursday. The testing is mandatory.

Quadrant Biosciences Laboratory is conducting the testing, which involves putting 12 specimens into a pool. The specimens are initially unlabeled, but if any one of them comes back positive, individuals in the pool must take new tests that are labeled with their names. Mansfield said turnaround time on test results is about 24 hours for the pool tests and 48 hours in the case of individual tests.

The superintendent said if anyone in a pool tests positive, everyone in it must quarantine.

The district will soon be offering the pool tests to unvaccinated students, and Mansfield said that will be finalized in the next couple of weeks. He said students can only get tested with parental consent.

Finally, the superintendent noted that the local Boys and Girls Club will be holding a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for teens from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in its new space at the former School 4 on Central Avenue.

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