Warren County school’s ‘Test & Stay’ pilot program begins next week

School districts in Warren County will begin its pilot “Test & Stay” program as early as Tuesday in an effort to keep more healthy students in the classrooms instead in quarantine at home due to the continuing pandemic.

The superintendents of Warren County’s school districts created this plan to enable students who are exposed to COVID-19 but who do not have any symptoms of illness will not be required to quarantine if they have a negative test at day three and again between days five to seven. The pilot plan was reviewed and approved by the Ohio Department of Health.

Test & Stay is a testing initiative for asymptomatic close contacts of students with confirmed COVID-19. This testing program will allow asymptomatic close contacts to remain in school if they receive an individual rapid antigen test (BinaxNOW) two times during their quarantine period and test negative, as well as wear a face mask while inside their school.

“We believe in the power of partnership in Warren County. Our school districts saw a problem and wanted to be part of the solution,” said Tom Isaacs, superintendent of the Warren County Education Service Center. “We appreciate the Governor (Mike DeWine) and Dr. (Bruce) Vanderhoff (ODH director) and their teams’ work to create this Test & Stay pilot. We are also grateful to the county commissioners for their quick decision to use their federal funds to help us keep our schools open with this pilot.”

ExplorePilot student quarantine plan to start next week in Warren County schools

Warren County is partnering with the school districts as the county commissioners approved using federal COVID-19 funds to provide a nurse for each district to help with testing and pilot implementation, Isaacs said..

He said there has been a significant amount of new work for school nurses and they cannot be successful without additional assistance. The funding from the county will allow the Warren County Educational Service Center to employ these nurses on behalf of the school districts, Isaacs said.

“We appreciate having another option that families can choose if their child needs to quarantine due to close contact exposure at school. As we all learn to live with COVID-19, we knew as school districts that we needed a more strategic approach to quarantine. Keeping healthy kids at school and sending sick kids home to get better is better for everyone,” said Mason Superintendent Jonathan Cooper.

Ohio Department Health is providing the participating districts with Abbot BinaxNOW Rapid Antigen Professional Test kits and Abbott BinaxNOW At-Home Test kits. School districts may administer professional tests at school to identified close contact students. Additionally, families may opt to test their child at home, and then utilize a telehealth session to oversee test administration and result reporting. All families using the at home test kit should follow the Ohio Department of Health User Guide.

Each test must be negative for the student to remain in school. The student must remain symptom-free to remain in school.

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Currently, the pilot only applies to students who are close contacts due to exposure at school, not through a community exposure or school-sponsored activity exposure.

Families whose student has been identified as a close contact will have the option to participate in the pilot to stay in school, or they may quarantine for 10 days at home, or return to school on day eight with proof of a negative test on day five, six or seven. Students who are wearing a face mask or are vaccinated do not need to quarantine.

Students who opt into the pilot program and remain in school, must wear a mask indoors for at least seven days after last exposure and must maintain a minimum of three feet distance from others. The mask must be a multi-layer surgical style mask or equivalent that fits snugly over the nose and mouth. Schools may assist in supplying multi-layer surgical masks to students who opt in.

During the quarantine period, the student cannot participate in extracurricular activities. When the student is not in school, they must quarantine at home, officials said.

Schools will be providing a separate area for students to eat where physical distancing of six feet is maintained for the pilot participant. This will allow the participant to safely unmask while eating.

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