ROCKCASTLE COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — It's been two weeks since Rockcastle County Public Schools implemented a test-to-stay program and are seeing positive results.
At the start of the school year, hundreds of students were quarantined in school districts across the state.
Director of Student Services Marcus Reppert says the district was one that had to shut down due to their quarantine numbers a week into school.
"We started school August 25 and we had an incredibly large number of quarantines those first, really the first week, and we actually had to shut school down for two days," said Reppert.
When the legislature introduced their "test-to-stay" idea during the special session, Rockcastle County administrators were already having conversations about how to make the program work for them.
"We knew that the state had selected 10 labs for school districts to choose from and so we began to contact a couple of those labs," said Reppert.
Since they started September 15, in partnership with Ethos labs, they've tested more than 200 students that were exposed and had three positives.
"It's improved dramatically. Our number of quarantines overall has went down as the incident rate in our area has declined, and our number of quarantines has declined pretty dramatically too over the past two weeks we started this program," said Reppert.
Parents must register their students at ethosbacktoschool.com and students can opt into the voluntary program. They have to test negative for five days but can remain at school each day. If there is a positive test, the student or staff will need to leave and quarantine.
The testing location is not inside the school and is free for participants.
For parents like Johnetta Lovell, who's also a teacher, it's a win. One of her children was exposed three times already this school year.
"It has released the burden because I do have the option now to be able to bring my child to have them tested, and of course if they test negative then we're able to go to school," said Lovell.
To receive rapid tests students and staff must be asymptomatic. They plan to continue the program as long as necessary.
"We don't want to shut down, we want to keep students in school as much as possible. That's our goal. That's our aim, and this is certainly a tool, an option that will allow us to meet that goal," said Reppert.