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Information on State's 'Cluster Action Initiative'

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Department of Health recently launched a “Cluster Action Initiative” for managing increasing COVID-19 infection rates in specific areas of the state. In areas designated as “yellow zones”, school districts will be required to perform mandatory COVID-19 testing of in-person students and staff.

Midlakes is located in a "Tier 3" geographic area (Ontario and Wayne Counties).  While our area is NOT currently designated as a yellow zone, as a “Tier 3” region, we would be declared a yellow zone if:

  • Our geographic area has a seven-day rolling average of positive tests above 3.5% for 10 days, AND
  • Our geographic area has 15 or more new daily cases per 100,000 residents on a seven-day average.

If our region is declared a yellow zone, Midlakes would have two weeks to test 20% of the in-person students, teachers, and staff in each of our schools. If that testing results in a positivity rate that is lower than the yellow zone’s current seven-day positivity rate, then the school would not be required to continue testing. A school positivity rate that is lower than the yellow zone positivity rate would demonstrate that in-person instruction is not a significant contributor to the local spread of the virus. However, if testing during that two-week period results in a positivity rate that is higher than the yellow zone’s seven-day positivity rate, then the school will be required to continue testing 20% of the in-person population every two weeks.

While we hope not to be declared a yellow zone, it is important for our community to understand what it would mean for Midlakes students and staff. Here are some important facts about the required testing if we are declared a yellow zone by New York State:

  • The testing of 20% of students, teachers, and staff in each school would be based on a random sampling. If we had to test for a second two-week period, we would have to test a new 20% sampling.
  • We would not test any student without parent permission, and we would not test any staff member without their permission. A parent permission form would be sent home for every student.
  • A student or staff member can refuse to be tested and still attend in-person, but the school must be able to test 20% of the in-person population to stay open for in-person instruction.
  • The more students and staff who are willing to be tested, the more likely we would be able to demonstrate a low positivity rate that would allow us to stop testing.
  • Testing would be conducted by trained individuals.
  • Testing would be conducted using a shallow swab (like a Q-tip), not the deep swab. The testing involves lightly swabbing the inside of the nostril.
  • The test is a rapid test, and the results are known within 15-minutes. Anyone who tests positive would be isolated and sent home as soon as possible.

Once again, we are not currently in a yellow zone and we are not required to test students and staff at school. We will continue to keep you updated on the status of our region and share any new information related to yellow zone testing. 

Thank you for your continued patience as we work together to promote the health and safety of our community and remain open for in-person instruction.