This testing initiative is organized by our partners at NYC Health + Hospitals, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), and the NYC Test & Trace Corps. The test is easy, quick, and safe. Instead of the "long swab" that goes in the back of the nose, this test is a short, small swab (like a Q-Tip) that goes just in the front of the nose.
We want to assure you that if your child is selected for testing but is uncomfortable or unable to be tested, we will not test your child and will work with you to address any concerns so that they can participate in future testing. We are focused on making this a brief, and gentle experience for our students, led by trained testers.
If your child is tested, we will let you know they were tested and when and how you will receive the results, which will typically be provided within 48-72 hours.
Visit the Supplemental Information for Parents About DOE Agreements With Outside Entities to read answers to a number of questions vendors provided about their privacy and data security practices. The vendors are BioReference Laboratories, Fulgent Genetics, MedRite, and Somos Healthcare.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can my child receive an exception from bi-weekly random testing?
If you do not want your child to participate in random surveillance testing do not submit consent.
What is the consent form?
We are seeking your consent to test your child for COVID-19 infection. The New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) working with NYC Health + Hospitals and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, has partnered with laboratories and other providers to test NYC DOE students for COVID-19 infection.
How often would you test my child?
Our testing provider partners will come to every school periodically to test some of the students. If you consent, your child may be selected for testing on one or more of these occasions, and your child may also be tested (1) in accordance with state and city mandates, or (2) if they exhibit one or more symptoms of COVID-19, or (3) if they are a close contact of a student, teacher, or staff person with COVID-19 infection, or (4) in connection with their participation in an extracurricular activity for which testing may be conducted.
What is the test?
If you consent, your child will receive a free diagnostic test for the COVID-19 virus. Collecting a specimen for testing involves inserting a small swab, similar to a Q-Tip, into the front of the nose and/or collecting saliva (spit).
How will I know if my child tests positive?
If your child has a specimen collected for testing at school, we will send information home with them to let you know. COVID-19 test results will generally be provided within 48-72 hours.
What should I do when I receive my child’s test results?
If your child’s test results are positive, please contact your child’s doctor immediately to review the test results and discuss what you should do next. You should keep your child at home and inform your child’s school. If your child’s test results are negative, this means that the virus was not detected in your child’s specimen. Tests sometimes produce incorrect negative results (called “false negatives”) in people who have COVID-19. If your child tests negative but has symptoms of COVID-19, or if you have concerns about your child’s exposure to COVID-19, you should call your child’s doctor. If you need help finding a doctor, call (844) NYC-4NYC.
Consent from Families
How long is my consent in effect?
Your consent will remain in effect until September 30, 2022. However, you can withdraw consent at any time.
How do I withdraw consent?
Notify your child’s school in writing. Your school will designate a contact to receive these communications.
Will all students be tested?
All district school students in grades 1-12 who have consented to testing may be included in the random sample.
Who will be testing my child?
A trained individual will conduct the test. Testing will be provided by our partners: BioReference Laboratories, Fulgent Genetics, MedRite, and Somos Healthcare.
How will the testing work?
One of these providers will visit your child’s school with a randomly selected list of students to be tested that day. The testing provider will set up in a designated area in the school. Staff from the school will visit the appropriate classroom to retrieve students from that class who have been selected to be tested that day; those students will be escorted to the testing area, tested quickly, and then escorted back to their classroom.
What test will be used? Is it painful?
The test will use a “short swab” (similar to a Q-tip) that is inserted into the front part of the nose for five to ten seconds. We understand that some students may be nervous about testing, but the test is not painful and should not be uncomfortable for your child. The test should take no more than two minutes from start to finish.
Are students escorted to the testing area in a group or one-by-one? Will more than one student be waiting in an area to be tested?
Students will be escorted with any members of their class/pod who are also being tested. Social distancing will be maintained at all times. Face coverings will be worn at all times, except for the very short period when a student must remove their covering to allow for collection of the test specimen.
Can parents accompany their children to be tested?
Unfortunately, no. To maintain the classroom pods and reduce the risk of COVID-19 being introduced into the building, parents will not be able to accompany their children during the test. We understand that this may feel scary, particularly for younger children. Our trained staff will ensure the testing is performed swiftly, gently, and in a positive environment for all children.
How long is the testing process expected to take?
The cotton swab is in the nose for five to ten seconds, so the entire process of explaining the test to the child and then swabbing them generally takes only minutes.
How long will my child be out of class?
The testing will not take long. We do not expect any child to be out of class for more than 15-30 minutes total from the time that they are picked up at their classroom until they are escorted back to class.
My child is not comfortable communicating in English. Will interpreters be available to explain the process to students who are multilingual learners? If so, how will this be arranged?
Every testing partner will have policies and procedures for how they provide services to individuals in their preferred language. Please communicate with your principal in advance if you have specific concerns.
When/how will I know if my child has been chosen for testing?
By consenting, your child may be included in the random sample for the testing day. If your child is tested, you will be notified after school that day.
How can I help prepare my child for the test (especially for younger children)?
You should talk to your child about testing. We encourage you to tell them that the doctors, nurses, and other health professionals at school need to make sure they are healthy, so they are going to do a test for the virus by rubbing a small cotton swab inside the front part of their nose. Remind your child that it’s okay that the school performs this test and that it’s quick, safe, and gentle. (Please see the demonstration video at the top of this page.)
Why are 3K, Pre-K, and Kindergarten students not included in the COVID-19 school-based testing program?
We encourage parents of younger children to have them tested at one of our community testing sites. Children from 2 years and up can be tested at all of the sites available on the NYC Health and Hospital COVID-19 Testing Site page
When will results be available?
Results will be available within 48-72 hours after the sample is taken.
When will I receive my child’s results?
In most instances, parents/guardians will receive results no more than 48 hours after the specimen arrives at the laboratory. Depending on the provider testing at your school, you may receive a phone call, text message, email or maybe able to log into an online portal to access your child’s results. If your child tests positive, you will also receive a call from the provider who completed the testing.
What happens if my child tests positive?
You should keep your child home from school and contact their physician. Additionally, the Test & Trace Corps will contact your family to provide resources, connections to care if you require support, and to discuss how to keep your child and other household members safe. The school will also be notified to ensure steps are taken to protect other members of the school community. The Test & Trace Corps will provide your family with resources and will monitor your family for symptoms for 10 to 14 days.
Will overall results from testing across a school be shared with the school community?
Yes, but names or any other identifying information of the children or staff who test positive will not be released. You can see the statistical results for testing in your child’s school on our Testing Program Results page.
Will the DOE/City ensure that my child’s personal information remains confidential?
Any information related to in-school testing is confidential and protected under the New York City Health Code and other local, state, and federal laws. We will store information securely, and only DOE and city staff will have access to test results by name and other personal information.
What happens to the testing specimen?
The process works exactly the same as if you went to your regular doctor and had a blood test or a COVID-19 test—all information and any collected specimens are handled exactly the same way. The laboratory partners we work with use specimens for no other purpose than COVID-19 testing, and each specimen is destroyed as soon as a COVID-19 clinical result is successfully issued. In all cases, our partners operate under strict privacy and confidentiality protocols.
Where and how will test results be stored?
Results will be sent to two places: to the State and City Departments of Health, where all communicable disease results are sent; and to the Test & Trace Corps and associated City staff to facilitate closing of classrooms or school buildings and to support contact tracing as necessary to ensure we protect all students, staff, and family members. These entities operate under strict privacy and confidentiality protocols.