New York City test and trace hits milestone with 2 million school surveillance PCR tests

U.S. FDA authorizes first COVID-19 test for self-testing at home
FILE PHOTO: A new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at-home test kit made by Lucira Health, newly approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization, sits on a table at a Sutter Health lab in San Carlos, California, U.S. November 18, 2020.
REUTERS/Nathan Frandino

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Schools Chancellor David C. Banks announced that the NYC Test and Trace Corps and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) have administered over two million COVID-19 PCR school surveillance tests this year through the city’s in-school surveillance program.

In addition to supporting the “Stay Safe, Stay Open” plan for NYC public schools, an additional four million at-home tests will be delivered to schools each week until the end of the school year.

“New York City schools are the safest place for our kids to be because of the steps we’ve taken to make testing accessible,” said Mayor Adams in the May 27 announcement. “We know what works — by doubling COVID-19 testing in schools, getting our students vaccinated, and sending students, teachers, and staff home with at-home tests, we have kept our schools open and students learning in-person. I want to thank the dedicated school testing team that has helped make this possible and provided our students an undisrupted, world-class New York City education.”

The school surveillance testing program is the largest in the nation and was expanded in February to double the number of individuals tested in each school by including both vaccinated and unvaccinated students, as well as staff. 

“Thanks to the resilience of our school communities, the continuance of our gold standard approach to health and safety, and our robust surveillance testing program, schools have remained open and students have remained in classrooms receiving the supports they need,” said Chancellor Banks. “I’m proud of our continued partnership with New York City Test & Trace Corps and grateful that we are able to continue to provide the resources needed to keep our students, staff, and communities safe.”

The random in-school surveillance program allows public health officials to have an accurate look at how COVID-19 continues to impact school populations, and will act as a warning if COVID-19 infections increase at any said time.

“These two million tests have protected families, friends and communities, and kept our children in the place where they are safest and healthiest — our schools,” said DOHMH Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “Schools are among the safest places from COVID-19 transmission and that is a result of a team effort in mounting this incredibly successful testing effort.”

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