Just 35% of eligible NYC students have consented to coronavirus testing so far

Just 35% of eligible NYC students have consented to coronavirus testing so far

The effectiveness of New York City’s school-based COVID testing program came under scrutiny on Wednesday when education department officials for the first time disclosed the number of students who consented to participate: just over a third of those who are eligible.

In total, 192,705 students have submitted consent for the random testing program, First Deputy Chancellor Donald Conyers said at a city council hearing. About 550,000 students are eligible for testing, according to department officials.

“These are not very reassuring numbers,” Brooklyn City Council member and education committee chair Mark Treyger said in response to the figures during the hearing.

The city’s current protocol calls for 10% of unvaccinated students to be tested every week in grades 1-12, as preschool and kindergarten students are excluded from the program. There is no penalty for failing to submit the forms, and students who don’t return them are not supposed to be tested.

The lack of consent for most students could weaken the city’s testing strategy, some public health experts said, though others were less worried. Last school year, when consent for testing was mandatory for students who attended school in person, officials also struggled to collect consent forms. (Roughly 40% of children returned to buildings by the end of last year.)

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