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The New York State Department of Health recently amended its school guidance related to COVID testing and quarantine. Per its memo, the NYSDOH is now allowing individuals who develop COVID-19 symptoms and have no known exposure to someone with COVID-19 to participate in school activities following a negative nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) such as a rapid molecular or PCR test, or a rapid antigen test, regardless of vaccination status. This means that either a lab-certified negative rapid antigen test or a rapid molecular or PCR test will be accepted for an individual to remain in school or return to school if there is no known exposure to a positive case.

In addition to a negative NAAT or antigen test, symptomatic individuals must:

  • be well enough to participate in school
  • not have rhinorrhea (runny nose) or cough severe enough to make mask wearing difficult or unhygienic
  • be fever-free for 24 hours without use of fever-reducing medication and
  • comply with the district school illness policy to return to school after a non-COVID illness.

Documentation of the negative test result should be sent to the school’s Health Office before the individual returns to school.

Please be reminded that our local health departments are not accepting home tests as proof of a negative test. These tests are viewed as a screening mechanism only. The local health departments require a lab-certified test as mentioned above to return to school or work.

Testing is available throughout the region and state, including at pharmacies and health care facilities. Please visit to find a rapid test site near you. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please call the testing site before you go to testing.