BUFFALO, N.Y. — With many students heading back to class Monday, Erie 1 BOCES got a big shipment of at-home COVID tests on Saturday.
They received approximately 65,000 testing kits according to a press release from an Erie 1 BOCES spokesperson.
The at-home kits were then divvied up and picked up by 19 different school districts in Erie County for distribution. The Tonawanda City School district informed will be holding testing kit pickups Sunday, January 2.
The tests will be available at the main entrance of Mullen Elementary School and the MS/HS building at door 1 from 9 a.m. to noon. Parents were required to fill out a pre-registration form by 5 p.m. Saturday, January 1.
Tonawanda City School Superintendent Timothy A. Oldenburg clarified in a letter to parents that the COVID testing is not mandatory or a requirement to return to class.
Sweet Home Central Schools will hold a similar COVID-19 at-home test pickup Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon in the Athletics Hallway at the high school. Parents were notified via email, robocall, and on the district's website. One test per child will be available.
Parents in other districts are advised to watch out for similar updates before the end of the weekend. Lancaster and Williamsville are also hosting pick-ups.
An Erie BOCES spokesperson said New York State provided Saturday's shipment in an effort to continue in-person learning amid the latest wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Erie County provided N95 masks for school districts as well. Those, too, were added to Saturday's distribution package. With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Erie County, the Erie County Department of Health is planning on distributing 400,000 additional KN95 masks to the public over the coming week.
A Tuesday conference call between Gov. Kathy Hochul and some leaders of the state's 731 school districts signaled the governor's goal to keep schools open. It included a plan to provide millions of antigen, take-home tests over the next several days or so for parents to check their kids.
Hamburg Superintendent and Erie Niagara Superintendents Association president Michael Cornell and other school leaders were on that call to relay that information to parents and create peace of mind.
Niagara Falls superintendent Mark Laurrie recently told 2 On Your Side: "The ability to get these tests and then to deliver them to the 12 BOCES throughout the whole state may not happen overnight, so the hope is to have this rolled out early next week, but it's all dependent on the supply chain."