DHEC encourages schools to use ‘Test to Stay’ program to help keep kids in classroom
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is encouraging schools across the state to use the ‘Test to Stay’ program to help ensure healthy students can continue in-person learning.
According to DHEC, the program allows rapid tests to be performed on K-12 students who have been exposed to a COVID-19 infected person in the hope that more of them can remain in class.
Rather than immediately moving close contacts to quarantine, Test to Stay allows those students to stay in the classroom if they test negative between day 5-7 and are not experiencing symptoms.
Officials said a second test, given 24 hours after the first test, is encouraged if testing is available.
DHEC has ordered more than 1,600,000 rapid at-home tests, and 300,000 will be delivered to schools by the end of week. The remaining tests will be delivered to schools as soon as they arrive.
The agency added they now have 200,000 BinaxNOW test cards that can be distributed to schools upon request, so that school staff can administer the tests on students at school.
“We are aware that several school districts have concerns about updates to our COVID-19 school guidance and our School and Childcare Exclusion List. We know that their goal is to keep more students in schools,” said DHEC Director Dr. Edward Simmer. “DHEC shares in that goal and is ensuring that schools and parents have access to rapid tests so school systems can fully implement TTS, which allows most students to remain in school. This is the most effective way to maximize learning without sacrificing our students and teachers’ well-being.”
Under Test to Stay, DHEC said schools are asked to accept rapid at-home test results from parents. The agency also stressed the importance for K-12 schools to follow DHEC’s school guidance correctly.
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