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St. Joe's tests students and staff, offers advice for other school districts

The school partnered with Kaleida Health's Visiting Nursing Association to receive the lab license that allows it to conduct COVID testing.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo came out with a new mandate this week about schools in orange zones testing their students.

Instead of testing everyone who comes to the building for in-person learning, schools now only have to test 20 percent. 

However, some schools are still testing everyone, including St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute. This is the third and final day of testing there.

By the end of Wednesday, the school will have tested more than its 600 students and staff.

The school nurse, Rosanne Urbanski, says the testing process has been going pretty smooth and now has some advice for other districts so they can do the same.

"Having an adequate number of testers, telling students we would let them know if they were positive. If they were negative, they would not hear from us that evening. And also, to just have the students come into the building for testing," Urbanski said.

Urbanski says it's also important for districts to tap into their school nurses to make testing more sufficient.

The high school had 10 school nurses and 10 parents with medical backgrounds volunteer to administer tests.

For example, on Monday, the school was able to test 250 people. Ten people were tested every 15 minutes. 

St. Joe's partnered with Kaleida Health's Visiting Nursing Association to receive the lab license that allows it to conduct the testing.

It also allows them to receive free rapid testing kits from the state, which it is using on everyone at St. Joe's.

"We know that the mandate is no longer to test 100 percent of the faculty, staff and students, but we made a conscience decision knowing that if everybody who enters the building tomorrow has had a test in the last three days, that is the safest environment we can possible provide for our school community," school president Christopher Fulco said. 

Fulco says the high school is ready to open for in-person learning Thursday morning.

As of Wednesday morning, only one student had tested positive for the virus. 

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