School-Based Close Contact Test and Stay Program
September 15, 2021
As mentioned last week, we continually review our COVID protocols and will now be implementing the Test and Stay program as outlined by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). This program is available to students who are identified as close contacts as a result of a COVID exposure in school only. It is important to note that the program is not available to those identified as close contacts outside of school.
Key components of the Test and Stay program as outlined by DESE:
- Available to those not exempt from quarantine (i.e. fully vaccinated)
- Duration of Test and Stay: 7 days from the date of exposure
- Return to School: Close contacts can remain in school and do not have to quarantine, as long as they
- Are asymptomatic
- Wear masks in school at all times, other than when eating or drinking. When these individuals cannot be masked (i.e. when eating or drinking) they should maintain 3 feet of distance from other individuals to the extent feasible.
- Take a rapid antigen test (e.g. BinaxNow) on each school day and receive a negative result. When the 7 days from the date of exposure includes weekends or holidays, individuals should quarantine on weekends, and if they remain asymptomatic, upon return to school be tested immediately. If the individual remains negative, they can stay in school.
- Conduct active monitoring for symptoms through day 14, and self-isolate at home if symptoms develop.
A flowchart is also available to assist in clarifying the process. The flowchart is posted here. Please note that in the elementary schools, we will be considering each case as it occurs as to the number of close contacts. As we have been, we are likely to err on the side of caution especially with the youngest students.
DESE does require consent for the administration of antigen tests in school. Consent is provided through the CIC Health portal linked used to consent to asymptomatic pool testing. The webpage to provide consent is found here. Since the consent form is the same for both programs, we will include your child in both the antigen Test and Stay program AND pooled testing unless you notify the school nurse that you are only enrolling in one of the programs.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the school nurses. Thank you again for your support and patience as protocols and COVID evolve.