With students now back in school, COVID-19 challenges remain as those identified as close contacts need to be quarantined. But Naperville school districts are looking at options to reduce the number of them who have to stay home. One option is Test-to-Stay.
The Test-to-Stay program allows students and staff who are identified as close contacts to continue coming to school instead of being quarantined if they had been masked. They would be required to be tested on days one, three, five, and seven from the date of exposure. If a test comes back positive or symptoms develop, they would have to go home. Those vaccinated and not showing symptoms don’t need to quarantine.
Test-to-Stay was created by the Illinois Department of Public Health and Illinois School Board of Education, but those groups gave local health departments the final say on whether to allow school districts to implement it. The DuPage County Health Department (DCHD) does not endorse the program, one reason being that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not either. However, they are allowing school districts to implement it if they choose.
School Districts Explore Test-to-Stay
At Monday’s board of education meeting, Indian Prairie School District 204 said it is working on a pilot program to try Test-to-Stay. District 204 Superintendent Adrian Talley said the district would most likely start the program as a pilot in a small number of schools, “to make sure it can be scaled up easily in all of our buildings.”
Naperville School District 203 is evaluating its options and resources since Test-to-Stay is not endorsed by DCHD.
“What makes it somewhat challenging are the requirements of the Test-to-Stay and the amount of testing that must occur and that the DuPage County Health Department has indicated its education team will not provide technical assistance to school staff with the implementation of a Test-to-Stay program,” said District 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges at the September 20 board of education meeting.
Bridges said they would look at other school districts on how they intend to implement the program since there won’t be support from DCHD, “which is disappointing” said District 203 board president Kristin Fitzgerald.
“To fully fulfill the requirements of the Test-to-Stay protocol and the amount of testing and the frequency of the testing it is going to be difficult for us to implement alone,” said Bridges. “That being said as we continue to evaluate the impact of lost time in the classroom we know that we have to consider what other options may be.”
According to District 203’s COVID-19 Tracker, a total of 648 students were quarantined for the week of September 19-25. District 204 said it placed 42 students on exclusionary status due to close contact to a confirmed case of COVID-19 on campus that same week.
Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ and Casey Flanagan report.