Fairport families pick up free COVID-19 tests ahead of holidays

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FAIRPORT, N.Y. (WHEC) — Local families are pouncing on the chance to take COVID-19 tests as they head toward Christmas celebrations.

On Wednesday evening, a long line of parents picked up home test kits outside Fairport High School.

“Oh, we are on the front lines. Absolutely,” exclaimed Deborah Miles, normally Student Services Director for Fairport High, turned head of test distribution, “This is taking my job from student services to kind of a whole new level.”

Just three days before Christmas, about a dozen school staffers and parent volunteers got out on the curb in the snow handing out home coronavirus test kits and, just as they saw on Monday, found crowds of grateful parents.

"It’s nice to have a safe Christmas. And I’m just so grateful that they’re giving them out,” said Fairport parent Carrie Vandermallie.

“I have two parents that are older, in their 80s, and my mother-in-law, so, and they have health conditions. We are all vaccinated, and boosted. But, it’s good to know,” echoed parent Elizabeth Wagner.

By the end of the year, the state plans to have an extra 5 million test kits sent out, mostly to schools, so students, especially those suspected to have been exposed to COVID, can get answers before the resumption of classes in January, and not have to stay home.

"Test the child, and, if they are negative, the first day, send them back to school,” explained Governor Kathy Hochul in a Wednesday briefing.

But many families are more concerned about Christmas get-togethers, like Dan Osimowicz who, as an RN himself, has been COVID-vigilant for a year and a half and is relieved to be able to test his kids.

"It’s nice to have the rapid test finally so that if you do have somebody that’s sick at home, you can get tested real quickly and in 15, 20 minutes, you can have a peace of mind if you’re negative, and if you’re positive you can go get the PCR afterwards."

School officials say getting tests out has become especially important with more familiar seasonal bugs like the common childhood Respiratory Syncytial Virus appearing and the need to add some peace of mind to that Christmas cheer.

“There are a lot of other things going on out there with cold symptoms and RSV and other things like that,” Miles explained. “So, this helps them determine what we really have at home right now.”

Fairport schools distributed about 2,200 test kits Wednesday until supplies ran out.

The district also sent a few home with students in the urban-suburban school program to make sure they received tests also and sent volunteers to deliver kits to non-English speaking families.