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Grand Island: 'Test to stay' expanded to include extracurricular activities

Sat, Feb 12th 2022 07:00 am

By Alice E. Gerard

Students who are participating in the school system’s “test to stay” program are now permitted to engage in extracurricular activities, said School Superintendent Dr. Brian Graham at the Feb. 7 Grand Island Central School District Board of Education meeting.

“The state came out with a new memo on Friday. They are starting to move in a good direction. Students who are close contacts who participate in ‘test to stay’ can continue in their extracurricular activities as long as it doesn’t involve interacting with students from another school. So, band and orchestra and lessons after school and ensembles, things of that nature, no problem. If an athlete wants to go to practice, no problem,” Graham explained.

According to Ashli Dreher, board president, “If they are a close contact and they are unvaccinated, and there is a sporting competition, whether it’s a baseball competition outside or a spring track meet outside, they would not be able to attend that extracurricular activity because it would be against another school.”

Currently, the quarantine period is five days, and, according to Graham, students are tested twice during those five days.

Graham acknowledged the “test to stay” program has been costly.

“The program is expensive,” he said. “We’ve gone from nine Buffalo Homecare personnel to four, and Cheryl Cardone (assistant superintendent of special education and pupil personnel) and I are considering reducing that to two and having one central location (for testing). We haven’t done that yet, but, actually, our ‘test to stay’ numbers are also reducing significantly, so it makes sense to consolidate.”

Dreher noted the “test to stay” program “saved a lot of instructional hours for students, which is what counts here.”

In addition to changes in the “test to stay” program, the school is looking into alternative activities for the high school. The winter ball “didn’t happen,” Dreher said, adding, “Bringing hundreds of kids into the gym to dance and celebrate probably isn’t the best idea right now.”

Currently, the district is looking into offering the students an outdoor event, such as a winter festival.

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