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Clark County School District rolls out ‘test to stay’ COVID-19 strategy

Updated February 4, 2022 - 6:42 am

Only nine Clark County School District students and 25 employees who’ve been exposed to COVID-19 in a school setting have signed up so far for an optional “test to stay” program.

The program began Jan. 19, the day classes resumed after the district’s five-day “pause” due to extreme staffing shortages spurred by COVID-19 cases.

The “test to stay” strategy — backed by the federal government and used in a number of other school districts nationwide — allows participants to skip quarantine. The purpose is to keep more students and employees who don’t have symptoms and continually test negative in class and on the job.

“If they choose to participate, they then have to meet eligibility requirements as determined by Health Services,” the district said in a Wednesday night statement to the Review-Journal.

It’s unclear how many people in the district — which has more than 300,000 students and 40,000 employees — have qualified for “test to stay” over the last two weeks and chose not to participate.

The district releases data publicly about the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, but not quarantines due to being deemed a close contact, which is someone who’s within six feet of a contagious person for a total of 15 minutes within a 24-hour period.

Students and employees in the “test to stay” program have 24 hours to test negative after they’re notified of being exposed.

They can stay in class as long as they undergo COVID-19 testing every other day until day seven and repeatedly get negative results, and don’t have any symptoms.

“The student will need to correctly and consistently wear a mask during the entire program period and monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 for a full 10 days after exposure,” the district wrote in a message last week to parents.

The student can only attend classes — not participate in sports, clubs or extracurricular activities — and “must continue to quarantine outside of school,” the district said.

If a participant doesn’t meet all of the testing requirements, they’ll be “immediately removed” from the program, the district said. In that case, they can’t return to school until they’ve completed a full five days in quarantine.

And if a participant tests positive for COVID-19 at any point while in the program, they go into isolation.

The school district’s quarantine and isolation guidance — which was updated in late December based on federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations — says some employees or students who are exposed may not be required to quarantine at all based on factors such as vaccination status, mask usage and if they had COVID-19 in the last 90 days.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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