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Webster CSD responds to yellow-zone COVID-19 designation

Superintendent Gumina explains rapid testing measures

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Webster, NY - The Webster Central School District is considered a yellow zone, which means it must administer rapid COVID-19 testing to in-person students and staff members beginning next week.


Portions of Monroe County - including Webster - have been designated as yellow zones, according to New York State’s Cluster Action Initiative.


Superintendent of Webster Schools Carmen Gumina shared in a COVID-19 message to the Webster CSD community on Nov. 11 what Monroe County says this yellow-zone designation means.


Below are all your questions answered per the superintendent’s message.


When will testing begin?


Gumina says rapid COVID-19 test kits will arrive in Monroe County by this Friday.


“Our area needs 15,000-20,000 kits each week,” writes Gumina.


All districts in the yellow zone must begin administering rapid testing to 20% of in-person students and staff members early next week, says Gumina.


“No student will be tested unless parents and guardians opt-in for the test,” Gumina writes.


This testing will continue weekly until the district’s positivity rate decreases to under 3.0%.


Is this rapid testing similar to the regular COVID-19 tests?


Gumina says the rapid tests to begin next week “are nothing like the typical nasal pharyngeal tests that are being performed in many clinical settings.”


The rapid testing will consist of a simple nasal swab, meaning that most of them can be self-administered, says Gumina.


How long will it take to receive test results?


Gumina says the results of rapid testing should be clear within 15 minutes of administration.


“We expect almost all of our students and staff members who get tested each week to be negative,” writes Gumina, “but if someone is positive, we will follow our existing protocol by immediately isolating that person, sending them home, and notifying the department of health.”


What are the schools doing wrong?


Gumina reassures families that, according to Monroe County Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Michael Mendoza, the yellow-zone designation “is certainly not the fault of schools,” as the Webster district continues to adhere to strict health and safety measures. (I.e. masks, social distancing, handwashing, etc.)


“But, in order to move out of the yellow zone, it is imperative - and required - that we take part in testing,” says Gumina.


What is the math that’s driving this rapid testing?


Gumina breaks down the math to explain why Webster CSD and other Monroe County districts are considered yellow zone areas:


“Our region's current positivity rate is 3.5%, so that means our "FRACTION” is 3.5/100 (for every 100 people tested, 3.5 are coming up positive).

“So here's how we use our FRACTION to move from yellow back to green: We have to test so many people to enable our denominator to go way way up while the numerator (number of positive tests) hardly increases at all. So, now our FRACTION becomes something like 10/1,500, only a 0.7% positivity rate! It's that type of rate that will drive down our region's overall positivity rate (we need to get below 3.0%). This is the reason that schools are being asked to participate and help our community get back to green; so, in essence, schools will be the rescue of our region.”


Does the district have to participate in rapid testing?


According to Gumina, districts that do not participate in rapid testing “will absolutely be forced to abandon in-person learning.” The schools would have to return to 100% remote learning.


“I, along with all other area superintendents, do not want this to happen,” Gumina writes.


As a concluding note of motivation, Gumina says, according to the Monroe County Department of Health, it can take only two to three weeks to go from being a yellow zone to a green zone.

“We can do this - and we can do it together!” Gumina encourages.


For regular updates from Webster Central School District regarding COVID-19, visit their “Reopening & Coronavirus Info” page.