NEW YORK (WWTI) — As schools across the North Country return following their holiday vacations on Monday, many have plans in place to combat the ongoing COVID-19 surge.

On Friday, December 31, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced the state’s “Winter Surge Plan 2.0” in response to increasing COVID-19 cases statewide. According to Governor Hochul, her top priority was to ensure schools remain open for in-person instruction this month.

Strategies to keep schools open included providing tests to students and school districts. The Governor’s Office confirmed that in the final week of December, 5.56 million tests arrived for schools and between six and seven million more were expected to be delivered in the first days of January.

To distribute these tests, Gov. Hochul mobilized 40 trucks and 86 state personnel to distribute these testing kits. In total, 37 million tests will be distributed across the state.

Local schools in the North Country have already released plans on how these testing kits will be administered.

School districts in Jefferson County have confirmed that testing kits will be distributed by BOCES in the first weeks of January.

According to local administration, testing is voluntary, and aims to “add an additional layer of protection in the event symptoms are present.”

Educators confirmed that at-home testing will not be a requirement for entry into school. Detailed distribution plans have yet to be confirmed and are expected to be released in the coming days.

New York will also be implementing “Test-to-Stay” policies for local school districts. Through this, the state will work with counties with the goal of keeping schools open.

Specifically, if a student tests positive for the coronavirus, affected classmates will be permitted to take a test kit home and return to the classroom upon receiving negative results instead of mandatory quarantine.

Governor Hochul’s Winter Surge Plan 2.0 also included masking requirements, the distribution of antiviral treatments, boosting hospital capacity, vaccination access expansions and working with local partners.