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C.O. school districts urge allowing ‘test-to-stay’ option to keep more students in class, out of quarantine

'The vast majority in quarantine never end up having symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.'

PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Under current public health guidelines, Central Oregon school districts say, students who have not tested positive for COVID-19 or show any symptoms still must quarantine, if they are found to have been exposed to others who have the virus.

Crook County School District Communications Director Jason Carr said the current quarantine requirement is a blanket approach and proposes another: the "test-to-stay" option.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, test-to-stay (sometimes referred to as "modified quarantine") is an approach that uses regular testing and contact tracing to allow students who have been exposed to COVID-19 in a school setting to remain in the classroom, while maintaining other layered prevention strategies, such as universal masking, to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“We just recognize that when you look at the difference in the number of actual positives that we have in the district amongst students and staff, vs. the amount the we’re putting into quarantine for 7-10 days, that's just -- that number doesn’t really jive,” Carr said.

Jefferson County School District Communication Coordinator Joey Prechtl said they also support the alternative and that students learn better with in-person education.

“I can say that the Jefferson County School District would welcome a ‘test-to-stay’ option in our district," Prechtl said.

Carr said the vast majority in quarantine never end up having symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.

ODE Ready Schools Resiliency Manager Kati Moseley told NewsChannel 21, “The Oregon Department of Education has no quarantine requirements. Local Public Health Agencies (LPHAs) determine quarantine and schools are responsible for excluding students and staff whom administrators reasonably believe to have been exposed to a communicable disease.”

Across the Crook County School District, there are 12 confirmed cases of students that have COVID-19, and five confirmed staff cases. The bigger issue, however, comes from the fact that there is a total of 185 students and 10 staff members in quarantine. He added that much of the exposure happens outside the schools.

The Redmond School District now have about 75 students in quarantine, and says they support students learning in the schools.

The Jefferson County School District has 32 quarantines, three of whom are staff members.

Both Prechtl and Carr say the quarantines also worsen a shortage of substitute teachers. Prechtl noted that a number of principals have had to step into that role.

Carr said the way things are, with expanded quarantines, affects parents, too.

“When it comes to child care, parents trying to work, you know -- all those other concerns that are out there as well," Carr said.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, Oregon does not yet have a test-to-stay program or protocol, but is exploring the feasibility of that option in the future. As of now, they the OHA said, the state does not have the testing capacity to add the program. 

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Bola Gbadebo

Bola Gbadebo is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Bola here.

Comments

9 Comments

  1. The amount of lost learning hours from sending kids home on the whim that they may have been sitting next to someone who might have symptoms is staggering. This will have ramifications for years to come.

  2. Sure, let’s subject our kids to nasal swabs that tickle the brain. Have we learned anything in the last 18 months? Apparently not. Quarantining Non-Vaxxed and NOT Vaxxed isn’t working-BECAUSE VAXXED ARE GETTING SICK AND SPREADING IT TOO! Come on parents. STAND UP for our kids. Bring back common sense and let kids stay in school. Any child, vaxxed or not, who shows signs of illness should stay home. Otherwise, let them stay in school. Since WHEN does AMERICA require a system that makes kids PROVE they are healthy.
    Masks are working soooo well…NOT! Stop Complying with the Socialist Agenda and start standing up to the idiots that are running our state and country. We the People have the right to say ENOUGH.

      1. Forcing our kids who are not having any severe side effects from Covid, nor are they dying, to test in order to stay in school is complete bull… 2 kids in Oregon have died in 19 months attributed to Covid. More die from Flu each year. Yet we now want to force an invasive test that has such a high rate of error either way onto our kids to stay in school? Any parent willing to do this, deserves the consequences. I would imagine these same people are going to be lining up to get their kids a vaccine that is EXPERIMENTAL and they are okay with turning their kids into Lab Rats. FORCING VACCINATION is 100% Socialist/Marxist/Communist. A free society that follows the Constitution would NEVER stand for this. Believe what you want, but this pure Evil.

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