Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

January 7, 2022
Contact: John Lyon, Director of Strategic Communications (845) 638-5645
               Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, D.O., M.P.H., CPE, DABFM, FAAFP (845) 364-2512

County Health Department Allows Test-to-Stay Policy
for K-12 Public & Private Schools in Rockland County

Schools Must Follow NYSDOH Guidance

NEW CITY, NY, - Rockland County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert announces that K-12 schools may adopt Test-to-Stay (TTS) policies which are supported by both the CDC and the NYSDOH. Test-to-Stay will help keep students, teachers, and faculty safe, while allowing unvaccinated students who come into contact with an exposure at school but are asymptomatic and test negative over a series of days to continue to attend school.

The Rockland County Department of Health (RCDOH) is encouraging all schools in Rockland to participate in Test-to-Stay and to develop protocols and procedures for participating in Test-to-Stay. RCDOH has been providing information about Test-to-Stay to schools since late December.

"When implemented properly Test-to-Stay has been proven to reduce unnecessary quarantines and to reduce transmission rates in schools. While we recognize that these may be difficult requirements for schools to meet, we along with other counties are following the New York State requirements of Test-to-Stay. This entire Test-to-Stay strategy is based upon the results of studies undertaken in Los Angeles County, CA and Lake County, IL which were recently published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention MMWR. These requirements are in place solely to protect the health and safety of students, teachers, and faculty in schools," said County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert.

In Rockland County, Test-to-Stay is defined as follows: Students who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 and who are exposed to COVID-19 in school, may attend in-person classes (instruction/academic periods but NOT extracurricular activities) if:

  1. The student is symptom free.
  2. The school has received consent for the student to undergo daily testing.
  3. The student tests negative when tested during the approved testing cadence timeframe.

To facilitate TTS implementation, each school or district that chooses to participate in TTS must adopt and implement a written TTS protocol, subject to RCDOH approval, that includes the following:

  • Protocol for reporting all COVID-19 test results, including TTS results, to the New York State COVID-19 report card, and for ensuring the school or district remains current in its reporting of all COVID-19 test results, in addition to their other reporting obligations under New York State Public Health Law.
  • Process to ensure equity (e.g., cost, transportation, etc.) so that all students are eligible for TTS.
  • Process for ensuring that students under the TTS protocol correctly wear well-fitting masks in school at all times, other than when eating or drinking. When these individuals cannot be masked, they should maintain 6 feet of distance from other individuals, whenever possible.
  • Designation of individual(s) who will conduct the testing and individuals who are responsible for reporting test results. TTS testing must be conducted at school, and not elsewhere. This will require schools to obtain a limited-service laboratory certificate or contract with an appropriate provider.
  • Testing process and protocol for addressing results, including:
    • Process for TTS testing to be conducted to ensure results are received before the school day begins. While daily testing is ideal in the situation of the current surge, it may be difficult. Schools may choose to employ a testing cadence in line with NYSDOH recommendations instead, for the days following the exposure. Please refer to the NYSDOH memo for a sample schedule. (
    • Process for excluding and/or isolating, pursuant to school/district's existing procedures.
    • Individuals who test positive in TTS testing.
    • Process for exclusion from school of students who develop symptoms during TTS period.
  • Requirement that exposed students who are allowed to remain in school through TTS remain quarantined outside of school instruction/academic periods. Extra-curricular activities (sports, clubs, etc.) after school, on weekends and holidays are not permitted.
  • Process and specific actions, such as contact tracing, to follow up in the event that an individual tests positive.

Each requirement noted above from the New York State Department of Health will be required universally if a district/school chooses to implement TTS. Districts/schools may NOT change any of the policies above.

Policies on Test-to-Stay may vary by district; each school district has the ability to opt out of the program. Parents should await guidance from their school district on individual district policies and when they will take effect.

"Governor Kathy Hochul and New York State Health Officials have strongly encouraged schools to implement Test-to-Stay and distributed millions of testing kits directly to schools to assist with the process. Given these resources and seeing these policies being successfully implemented elsewhere, we have every confidence that Rockland schools are up to the task," said County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert.