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Exploring the 'Test and Stay' approach in schools

COVID-19 test schools
Posted at 10:40 PM, Aug 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-24 23:11:03-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — With student quarantines in Fayette County Public Schools approaching 500, Leanne Sebourn is worried that her young children could end up being a part of that growing web.

"It's kind of inevitable that kids are going to get [Covid] unfortunately," she said. "But I'm hoping that we can have a not very disruptive school year because of it."

Two of Sebourn's children attend Liberty Elementary School, where they are enrolled in the Spanish immersion program.

"They are both thrilled to be at the same school together," she said. "And they're happy to be back with their friends. And especially since my kids are in the immersion program, they need that face-to-face interaction with teachers to learn Spanish."

Sebourn's desire to avoid a quarantine has prompted her to take action. She and other parents have written to the school district to advocate for a "test and stay" approach, which has been used in Utah and Massachusetts.

A "test and stay" approach would allow kids who have had close contact with a confirmed infection to take a rapid test each morning before school as opposed to having to quarantine. If the students test negative, they would be able to attend school that day. A positive test would result in adherence to isolation procedures.

Sebourn shared with LEX 18 a screenshot of an email she received from a FCPS school board member, in which the board member acknowledged that she and Superintendent Dr. Demetrus Liggins discussed implementing the strategy.

The board member also said, "The obstacle has been the capacity of the testing companies, but I think we have reached an agreement and have a plan."

LEX 18 reached out to Lisa Deffendall, spokesperson for FCPS, who did not comment specifically on the "test and stay" approach.

Part of her statement is below:

“In recent weeks, we have been discussing ways that regular COVID-19 testing on our campuses might help us reduce the amount of time students have to miss school because of quarantines.

“We are still researching possible strategies and hope that we will be able to implement a system in the near future. However, at this time it would be premature for us to share additional information as no plan has yet been finalized.“