The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted in-classroom instruction, but nearly two years into the public health crisis, state health officials believe they've found a solution that keep kids in school. 

The guidance is called "test-to-stay," and is meant to stop the cycle of kids who are exposed to COVID-19 if they test negative for the virus. Key to this will be 1 million antigen tests purchased by the state and heading to school districts. 

"They will now be allowed for schools to use to be accepted for kids to return if they had to go home because someone tested positive," Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Thursday. "So we're getting those out to parents." 

The test kits are part of a larger plan called test-to-stay for schools that could allow students and their parents more certainty if they have close COVID contact. Education advocates have raised concerns over the last year and a half of the impact of children learning remotely and how many have struggled as a result. 

At the same time, parents have had to juggle work with keeping their children at home. 

"We want to make sure more kids are back in classrooms because they fell so far and many of them are going to have long-term consequences if we don't get them back into the classrooms," Hochul said. 

So far only a handful of school districts have loosened their student quarantine policies. But overall the goal is to reduce disruption to learning, said New York State PTA Executive Director Kyle Belokopitsky.

"That's what we have to try to figure out how to do this," Belokopitsky said. "At the same time, we want to make sure kids and their classmates and the educators in the building are safe and free of the virus." 

It's not yet clear when the test-to-stay policy will be broadly adopted, and Belokopitsky says it could take some time depending on the COVID case count after the holidays. 

"As we adapt to the virus, and we know the virus is adapting every day to us, so as we adapt to the virus, we have to find reasonable ways to keep kids in seats and at the same time make sure they're safe," she said. "We may see school districts wait until after that spike has passed us, I think that may be more common."