New York City coronavirus: Students randomly tested for COVID without parents' consent

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Sunday, October 18, 2020
Random COVID testing without consent in Staten Island schools
Some students were randomly tested for COVID-19 without their parents' consent.

STATEN ISLAND (WABC) -- New York City's Department of Education is taking action after some students on Staten Island were randomly tested for COVID-19 without their parents' consent.

Assembly member Mike Reilly, who represents South Shore of Staten Island, was informed by several parents about the incident.

"Earlier this afternoon, I shared preliminary information pertaining to several incidents where New York City public school students were tested for #COVID-19 by the NYC Department of Education despite not having consent from the student's parent or guardian," Reilly said on a Facebook post. "I am aware that the Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation is looking into the matter, but that doesn't mean we can't demand greater accountability going forward. In my letter to Department of Education Chancellor Richard Carranza, I ask that parents receive a better explanation about what happened in these particular cases, as well as a better understanding of the exact procedure that the Department of Education's clinical staff follows when selecting and addressing students. I know many of you are frustrated and worried about this and so many other issues that are affecting the New York City public school system this year. As the parents of two public school students, my wife and I are in the same boat as many of you. Chancellor Carranza is also a parent. I hope that, after he reads this letter, he will begin to see these issues through the lens of a public school parent - until then, nothing will get better."

RELATED COVID-19 testing begins in New York City's yellow zone schools

The school district says it sent consent forms to parents, but only 72,000 forms were returned -- that makes up about 20% of students who returned to the classroom.

Eyewitness News spoke to one mother who says her daughter got tested without the proper consent.

"I didn't agree to anything," the mother said. "I didn't consent to anything, so it that sense I feel like my parental rights were violated."

The NYCDOE released a statement on the matter.

"This should have never happened and we are adjusting our protocols to ensure it does not happen again," said Nathaniel Styer, of the NYCDOE. "For example, we are taking additional steps to make sure staff are using the most up-to-date consent lists during random testing, which is a critical part of keeping in-person learning safe and healthy for students and staff."

However, New York City has seen encouraging numbers for schools as the positivity rate is just 0.2% although there are concerns about how many are being tested.

RELATED: Red, Orange, Yellow: Here are New York's new COVID cluster zones

Josh Einiger has more on the rules and restrictions that take effect on Thursday in New York City COVID cluster zones.


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