BCSD School-Based COVID-19 Testing Information and FAQ

Please note this webpage will be updated regularly as new information and resources become available. Last update was January 14, 2021

As COVID-19 cases rise across our region and state, we continue to meet with local superintendents and our county health department to discuss these developments and ways we can continue to keep our buildings safely open.

In the event that BCSD will need to begin School-Based COVID-19 testing, New York State will be providing school districts with COVID-19 rapid tests. Below are communications that have been sent out regarding the potential testing and some frequently asked questions.


What test would be used in schools, and who would administer the tests?

New York State will provide Abbott’s BinaxNOW COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test to staff and to students for whom we have received prior parent/guardian consent. The test will be administered according to CDC guidelines by school nurses or by individuals formally trained by BOCES in the process.

How accurate is the test?

According to the BinaxNow website, the test is 97–98% accurate.

Is this the deep nasal swab test?

This test is a quick nasal swab of both nostrils and is NOT the deep swab nostril test that is performed at medical facilities.

What happens during the test?

The test involves inserting a small swab, like a Q-Tip, into the lowermost portion of the nostril.

The swab is gently rotated 5 times against the nasal wall, removed and reinserted into the second nostril, and gently rotated 5 more times against the nasal wall. 

How soon are the results available?

After the test, the swab is inserted into a test card for interpretation. The results can be read in 15 minutes.

Is the test painful?

There may be some slight discomfort, or you may feel a slight tickle in your nose.

Why is the rapid antigen test being used?

The rationale for using the rapid Abbott’s BinaxNOW COVID-19 Rapid Antigen test instead of the PCR test (polymerase chain reaction test) is that testing will be done on students and staff who are asymptomatic. Rapid tests detect protein fragments specific to the Novel Coronavirus. These tests are non-invasive for students and staff (i.e., not deep sinus tests, which have a longer turnaround time than the rapid test). The rapid test results are available within minutes.

How many people need to be tested each week to keep BCSD open?

On Monday, January 4, Governor Andrew Cuomo stated that schools in counties that have a positivity rate of 9% or higher should test 20% of in-person students and staff in order to remain open.

How do you decide which students and staff to test, and will I be notified prior to testing?

Students and staff will be randomly chosen for testing. They will only be chosen from the group of students and staff who have already consented. Families will be notified by letter the day that their student has been tested. 

Example of BCSD Notification letter

Can I be present during my child’s test?

Due to our current COVID policies, visitors are restricted from the building.

What happens if my child tests positive?

The child testing positive is sent to the isolation room to await pickup. The district will begin contact tracing to identify close contacts. Anyone identified as a close contact will also be sent home and will be required to quarantine. The Rensselaer County DOH is notified. The district will put out its standard notification of a positive case and follow disinfecting protocols.

What happens if my child becomes overly anxious and cannot tolerate the test?

We will do our best to complete the test, but we may need to skip your child and test another student

What is a COVID-19 Micro-Cluster? 

Under New York State’s Cluster Action Initiative Cluster Action Initiative, they are defined as geographic areas – a zip code, census tract, region, etc. – with high COVID-19 infection rates based on positivity rates and daily new cases. Micro-clusters are defined as Yellow, Orange, or Red Zones. If a school district is in one of those zones, there will be an impact on schools including mandated onsite COVID-19 testing for consenting students and staff.

What are the metrics for a region to be labeled a Micro-Cluster Yellow, Orange or Red Zone? 

On December 10, Governor Cuomo announced new metrics by which micro-cluster focus zones will be determined to help control COVID-19 spread and protect hospital capacity.

  • A Yellow Zone is a geographic area (zip code, census tract, etc.) with a 3% positivity rate over the past 10 days AND the cluster is in the top 10% for hospital admissions per capita over the past week and week-over-week growth in daily admissions.
  • An Orange Zone is a geographic area (zip code, census tract, etc.) with a 4% positivity rate over the past 10 days AND 85 percent hospital capacity OR the Department of Health determines an unacceptably high rate of hospital admissions.
  • A Red Zone is a geographic area (zip code, census tract, etc.) that is 21 days from 90% hospital capacity.


How will we know if the school will be testing?

Berlin CSD will begin testing if our region is designated as a yellow, orange or red zone. If this occurs, you will be notified by the school district.

How many people need to be tested each week to keep Berlin CSD schools open? 

In order for Berlin CSD to remain open while in a Yellow Zone, it must commit to conducting rapid screening tests on 20% of the in-person students and staff over a two-week period. Students and staff members will be randomly chosen from a pool of individuals who have given consent. If Berlin CSD enters an Orange Zone, we will need to continue to test new students and staff at a rate of 20% per month. If Berlin CSD enters a Red Zone, we will need to continue to test new students and staff at a rate of 30% per month. 

How do I give consent to have my student(s) tested at school?

An online parent/guardian consent form has been emailed to you via Edvistas, the same platform used for the daily health screening email. This is the form you are being asked to fill out for your student(s). Students will not be tested without parent/guardian consent.

If you have not received a form via email or would like to change your response, please contact Karen Capozzi at kcapozzi@berlincentral.org.

Example of consent form

What if I prefer to get my child tested offsite?

You have the option to get your child tested by your health-care provider or at any certified testing site. In order for those tests to count toward the mandated NYS 20% threshold, results need to be provided to your school nurse within a week. If it is your intention to test offsite, please notify the school and indicate when your child will be tested.

If I do not consent to testing, will my student be forced to switch to full remote instruction?

No, your child can continue to be part of the in-person learning model as long as we have enough participants for testing. However, if BCSD does not reach at least the 20% mandated benchmark, all students may need to switch to full remote instruction. Because of the exceptional commitment of this community, we anticipate consistently reaching the 20% threshold required. In the event that we do need additional participants, we will reach out to you. 

If I don’t consent now, will I have an opportunity to reconsider?

Yes. Depending on the number of parents who initially consent to onsite testing, we may need to ask for more participants or future testing if/when the district is designated as being in a micro-cluster zone. If that happens, we will send further communications asking families to consent.

Can parents/guardians or family members get tested too?

No. Those individuals work with their Primary Care Physician. BCSD will only have enough tests to accommodate 20% of our in-school population for each round of testing.

Anyone with questions and/or who needs to report a COVID-19 related health issue should contact the Berlin COVID Coordinator, Michele Corsey, at mcorsey@berlincentral.org.

Thank you all for your ongoing efforts to keep Berlin Central School safe and healthy.