Contact Tracing & Testing

Below are details of the District's Contact Tracing and COVID-19 Testing plans. These plans were developed based on guidance from the Westchester County Department of Health. Please see the county's Frequently Asked Questions document for additional information. 

COVID-19 Testing for Symptomatic or Exposed Individuals

Families seeking COVID-19 testing because their child is exhibiting symptoms, has been exposed to COVID-19, or are otherwise recommended for testing may visit the Westchester County Department of Health website, which lists testing locations under the testing, results and treatment tab. Students, families and staff can also call the NYS COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065 for assistance locating a testing site. Please note that there is currently no charge for COVID-19 testing at State/County locations, though health insurance information may be requested. 

The Department of Health recommends that any student or staff member who was exposed to an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 get tested five days following the exposure. Individuals do not need to be tested or quarantine after exposure if they are within 90 days of being fully vaccinated or after recovery from COVID-19. 

Students and/or staff members who were in close contact, as defined by the department of health, with an individual who tested positive will be required to quarantine for 10 days.

Surveillance Testing Program

In February 2021 the District began a COVID-19 surveillance testing program. The goal of surveillance testing is to establish a baseline positivity rate among our students and staff and then continue to monitor these results along with other data to determine whether the virus is spreading in our schools. This program was launched to coincide with the start of high-risk athletics and the return of additional students to classrooms. 

Under this program, the District seeks to test approximately 20% of our school population each month, or about 5% every week. To ensure that we have a broad and random sample of students being tested each week, It is our expectation that all students will participate in this program.

When a Student Has One or More Symptoms 

If a child is exhibiting one or more symptoms of COVID-19 (including a runny nose), they must stay home from school and seek testing for COVID-19, or see a health care provider within 48 hours. 

  • If the child receives a negative COVID-19 result using a PCR molecular test, they may return to school so long as the student has remained fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medicine. Please note that a negative result using a rapid test, will only be accepted if it is a PCR molecular test. 

  • A student may also return to school if they present an acceptable note from their health care provider stating a diagnosis of a known chronic condition with unchanged symptoms, or a confirmed acute illness (ex. laboratory-confirmed influenza, strep throat, etc.) AND that COVID-19 is not suspected. Please note: a signed note from a health care provider documenting unconfirmed acute illnesses, such as viral upper respiratory illness (URI) or viral gastroenteritis, will not suffice.

  • If the family does not provide a COVID-19 test result or an acceptable note from a health care provider, the District must assume that the student is positive for COVID-19. Accordingly, the student will not be permitted to attend in-person instruction for a minimum of 10 days and appropriate contact tracing will begin in consultation with the Department of Health. 

Siblings/students residing in the same household who are not exhibiting any symptoms and have not been in contact with their symptomatic sibling are not required to stay home provided that the child with symptoms has not tested positive for COVID-19, is presumed positive for COVID-19, or has not been directed to quarantine or self-isolate by the Department of Health. Families however always have the option of keeping the siblings home and accessing remote instruction while awaiting test results or a diagnosis from a health care provider. 

Positive Cases and Contact Tracing

If a child tests positive for COVID-19, families should report this information to the school using this Google Form. Information submitted using the Google Form will be kept confidential and will only be used to facilitate contact tracing within the Pelham Public Schools.

After submitting a positive test result, families will be contacted by the District’s COVID-19 Coordinator, Julia Chung, your school principal, or the school nurse. Using criteria provided by the Department of Health, the District will work to determine who at the child’s school is considered a close contact. A close contact is defined as having been within 6 feet of a positive individual for 10 minutes or longer when masks are worn or within 10-12 feet when masks are off (i.e. lunch). The District is using seating charts to determine which students/staff members are close contacts. These individuals will be directed to quarantine for 10 days per Department of Health guidelines. Individuals do not need to be tested or quarantine after exposure if they are within 90 days of being fully vaccinated or after recovery from COVID-19.

Return to School After Testing Positive

Students/Staff who tested positive and have COVID-19 symptoms may be released from isolation if:

  • It’s been at least 10 days since the individual first started experiencing symptoms; AND 

  • The individual hasn’t had a fever in at least 24 hours, without taking fever-reducing medication (such as Tylenol); AND 

  • Any shortness of breath/coughing/difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell has improved. 

Students/Staff who tested positive, but are asymptomatic may be released from isolation if:

  • It’s been at least 10 days since the person’s first positive COVID-19 test was collected; AND  

  • The individual hasn’t had any subsequent illness 

Class, School or District Closures

The District is committed to keeping schools open as much as possible. Factors considered in whether to close a school include the availability of staff, local infection rates, and the number of positive cases in a given class or school. The District will also monitor the results of its surveillance testing program and compare the data to the Westchester County infection rate. Closures may be made on class-by-class, school-by-school or District-wide basis. 

In the event that a student/staff member tests or is presumed to be positive for COVID-19 while in school, the District will close specific areas or the entire school for disinfection depending on the circumstance. Closures may extend to different schools based on the network of siblings/households and/or shared staff.