COVID-19 'Test to Stay' and Updated Guidance Information Page

Announcement: To read the COVID-19 "test to stay" and updated guidance announcement from Jan. 8, 2022, click here.

Plan: To read the Herkimer BOCES Test to Stay Plan, scroll below the video on this page.

Video: To watch a video about how to use an iHealth COVID-19 test, click here or watch the embedded video below.

Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Test to Stay Plan

This written plan is in place to implement the New York State Department of Health’s (NYSDOH) Test to Stay (“TTS”) Protocol. TTS is intended to begin the process of endemic integration of protocols to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the full-time, in-person academic environment.

This plan is available on the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton Otsego (HFHO) BOCES website as part of the COVID-19 Back to School Plan.

This plan applies to HFHO BOCES employees and students and is intended to reduce school exclusion of asymptomatic close contacts who would otherwise be subject to quarantine following an exposure to COVID-19.

In order for an individual to be permitted to remain in school using TTS, all of the following requirements must be met:

1. Asymptomatic: The exposed person must remain asymptomatic. If the exposed person who is allowed to remain in school through TTS develops symptoms, they will be immediately excluded from school per current guidance from the NYSDOH.

2. Required Minimum Testing Sequence: The exposed person must be tested during the five-day period following exposure, unless recognition of the exposure is delayed or weekends or school breaks intervene. The five-day period is measured in calendar days where the last date of exposure is considered day 0. The first test will be done as soon as possible after exposure is identified (i.e., the first day the student is in school after identified exposure).

The required minimum testing regimen will be as follows:

Minimum Testing Schedule:

Day of First Test

Day of Second Test

Day of Third Test


2 or 3









4 or 5














Adjustments may be made to account for weekends and other non-school days, in which case a test must be conducted on the first school day back and continue thereafter according to the above.

3. Timing of Test and Results: Tests must be conducted—and the results received—before the school day begins. Positive individuals must be excluded from school and isolated per existing procedures.

4. Use of At-Home / Over-the-Counter Tests: If the test is done in a medically unmonitored setting (e.g., at home using an over-the-counter, or OTC, rapid test), HFHO BOCES may ask that the results be verified in some way (online attestation, photo of results, etc.).

Equity Considerations:

It is the BOCES’ goal that where resources permit, families will not have to pay for the testing necessary to permit the student to remain in school under the TTS Plan. A family’s inability to pay for testing will not prevent a student from being eligible for TTS. When a family is notified of an exposure and a student’s eligibility for TTS, the BOCES will identify available testing resources through the BOCES or testing resources that may be available in the community.

TTS may be paused at any time during the school year due to shortages related to testing supplies and/or staffing, or if the NYS guidance changes.

Protocols for Follow-Up on Positive Test Results:

BOCES will follow the latest guidance from NYSDOH regarding response to a positive test result. 

Though subject to change, as of January 4, 2022, a positive case of COVID-19 in a school employee or student will result in exclusion from school for five (5) days (where day 0 is the first day with symptoms or the day of the positive test if the person doesn’t have any symptoms). If there are still no symptoms at the end of five (5) days or if the symptoms are resolving (as determined by the BOCES), exclusion is no longer required, but the student/employee must wear a well-fitting mask at all times while around others for an additional five (5) days.

Continued Quarantine Requirements:

BOCES will follow the latest guidance from NYSDOH regarding quarantine requirements related to an exposure to a positive case of COVID-19.

Though subject to change, as of January 4, 2022, an exposed student/employee who is fully vaccinated and boosted (with the booster at least 2 weeks before the date of exposure) is not required to quarantine; though they should wear a well-fitting mask while around others for ten (10) days following the exposure.

An exposed student/employee who is not fully vaccinated and boosted, as above, will be subject to exclusion from school for five (5) days, unless participating in the TTS protocol, and required to wear a well-fitting mask at all times while around others for an additional five (5) days.

Please note that students participating in TTS are allowed to continue to ride the school bus following all existing guidance, including required masking as long as they remain asymptomatic.

Reporting of Test Results:

The BOCES will maintain reports of all tests and encourages all staff and families to submit positive at-home test results to their local Department of Public Health.

Adapted from a template developed by Suffolk County Department of Health and NYSDOH guidance.