Covid NJ: “Test To Stay” Program For Nonvaccinated Students

Source: NJ Patch

Health officials in New Jersey are considering an alternative that would permit unvaccinated students who are exposed to COVID-19 to remain in the classroom during their quarantine period, as long as they remain asymptomatic and don’t test positive for the coronavirus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently added guidance concerning Test To Stay (TTS) practices, which are put in place to cut down on absenteeism and learning loss related to a traditional quarantine. It combines contact tracing and serial testing (testing twice over a seven-day period) to allow students to continue in-person learning during after being exposed to COVID-19 as an alternative to traditional quarantining.

“While implementation of TTS may vary, contact tracing and testing as well as masking of contacts during their in-school quarantine period are integral to minimize risk of transmission,” the CDC said in a statement. “Schools may consider the use of TTS to minimize the impact of quarantine and limit school absences after a SARS-CoV-2 exposure in the K-12 school setting.”

Currently, all students who are close contacts of staff or students who tested positive for COVID-19 and who are asymptomatic may use a reduced exclusion period for school-related quarantining. This means 10 days of quarantining, including remote learning, or 7 days if a student tests negative for the coronavirus between 5 and 7 days after exposure. Students in all New Jersey schools are currently required to wear face coverings.

Schools statewide are seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases in the days leading up to the holidays. From Dec. 6 to Dec. 12, 47 new COVID school outbreaks were reported in New Jersey, impacting 231 students and 42 staff members across 110 municipalities, said Murphy. Read more here: NJ Sees ‘Spike’ In School Outbreaks Ahead Of Christmas Holiday

“If schools are considering implementing Test to Stay, they should also have robust contact tracing in place and access to testing resources, among other layered prevention strategies,” the CDC said. ” Testing frequency can vary, but more frequent testing can more quickly identify students who become infected with SARS-CoV-2 and need to isolate.”

“Administrators should ensure that students who are isolating or in quarantine at home have adequate access to remote learning options and that they and their families receive support and follow-up to promote learning and minimize disruption,” CDC officials said.

“Test to Stay” practices are considered to be part of an overall strategy for combating the spread of COVID-19 in schools, which includes vaccinations.

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