While parents across the Hudson Valley prepared to send their children back to school on Monday January 3rd, concerns over COVID numbers in local schools were certainly on the forefront of many of their minds.  Community social media groups were buzzing with questions like 'what happens if our kids are exposed at school this week?' or 'is anyone keeping their children home this week to prevent possible exposure?'

Well, it seems like Ulster County has a new plan in place to help keep their students, teachers and school staff safe, while also keeping more kids in school, officially implementing the 'Test-to-Stay' program.  The announcement of the 'Test-to-Stay' implementation comes just days after County Executive Pat Ryan signed a thirty-day extension of the State of Emergency in Ulster County.

In the announcement from County Executive Ryan, the policy, supported by both the Center for Disease Control and Ulster County Health Department, Ulster will adopt 'Test-to-Stay' practices for all public schools across the county.  This program will allow students who come in contact with an exposure, but are without symptoms, to test negative over a series of days in order to continue attending school in person.  Schools in the district, with support from the Ulster County Health Department, are developing the policies and securing tests.

With regard to the program being rolled out across the county, County Executive Ryan stated:

The pandemic has highlighted not just the obvious importance of schools for our students, but also for the working parents of our community. Following CDC and NYSDOH guidelines, Ulster County will work closely with all of our public schools to provide them the resources needed to implement this proven policy.

Ulster isn't the first local school to implement the program, as Wappingers Central School District began utilizing 'Test-to-Stay' in November, with their superintendent even appearing on ABC-7 News to discuss the success of the plan.

A full outline of the policies that must be followed in order for schools to safely adopt the 'Test-to-Stay' program can be found here.  This includes information about how the exposure happened, testing requirements, and so on.

Ulster County's announcement comes at the same time as Governor Hochul's updated COVID plan to try and combat the ongoing winter surge.

20 Photos That Perfectly Describe The Wild Ride That Was This Past School Year

Answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

Vaccinations for COVID-19 began being administered in the U.S. on Dec. 14, 2020. The quick rollout came a little more than a year after the virus was first identified in November 2019. The impressive speed with which vaccines were developed has also left a lot of people with a lot of questions. The questions range from the practical—how will I get vaccinated?—to the scientific—how do these vaccines even work?

Keep reading to discover answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions.