A number of Warren County school districts will next week launch a new COVID-19 testing pilot program meant to keep children in class — not quarantined at home — if they are exposed to the novel coronavirus but do not show symptoms.
It’s called “Test and Stay,” and it focuses on asymptomatic students with known exposure to a fellow student with COVID-19.
These asymptomatic students will be allowed to remain in school if they test negative for COVID-19 twice during their quarantine period and wear face masks inside school buildings for seven days. The Journal-News reports they must meet other requirements, such as maintaining a distance of three feet from others and sitting out their extracurricular activities until the seven-day cautionary period ends.
Mason City Schools superintendent Jonathan Cooper, whose district is participating in the pilot, said he hopes it will provide a needed middle path between caution and recklessness.
“(Quarantine) helps keep our schools safe,” he said. “But when we over-quarantine or we have healthy kids staying at home that need to be in school, that's challenging and that's frustrating for the student, the family and our school.”
Schools will receive rapid tests to administer to students, and families can also opt to test their kids at home.
Shana Marsh, a parent, said she’s glad if the program can preserve in-person learning as the norm.
“I don't think they learn quite as well at home being at the computer,” she said. “I want my kids to go to school.”