Statewide (Feb. 1, 2022). The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has launched an additional school-testing program. It will provide additional testing resources, assist students and staff in learning after contact with someone who’s positive for COVID-19 and reduce the burden on parents.
The Test to Stay Program is now available. It provides students and staff with school-associated COVID-19 exposures a path out of quarantine, if they remain symptomatic and test positive twice more. Once they are notified that they have been exposed, any exposed student or staff member will be able to take the first test. If the first test results are negative, they can remain in school as long they wear a mask and are symptomatic. They should then take another test five to seven day after being exposed to COVID-19. If the second test is negative and the student or staff member remains symptomatic, they can continue to attend school. Students and staff must wear a properly fitted mask for 10 days after being exposed to a positive case.
School administrators may also decide to include students and staff with non-household exposures to Test to Stay.
The program is open for everyone. However, individuals who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 at school do not need to be quarantined. Individuals are considered up to date if they have received all recommended vaccinations, which includes a third dose for children 12 years and older. Non-vaccinated students who refuse to take part in Test to Stay or are exposed to a negative case at school will be asked to leave school. After the five-day quarantine, they will need to wear a mask for five days.
Rachel Herlihy is the state epidemiologist and said that we are committed in helping students continue their in-person learning. Schools are provided with a variety of testing resources to aid this process. We encourage schools and colleges to enroll in this program and other testing programs, so that students can continue to gain from being in the classroom.
Test to Stay is an addition to the many testing options already available to schools. Schools can also take advantage of the School Screening Testing Program for free, which offers comprehensive testing services that include test administration and coordination. Schools can also request tests and create their own testing programs. CDPHE also offers surge testing resources for states that are experiencing high levels of disease transmission.
CDPHE will supply schools with Abbott BinaxNOW rapid-over-the-counter tests. Schools will distribute them to students and staff who are eligible under the Test to Stay program. Students and staff will submit their test results to Abbotts NAVICA app/reporting portal. Schools will be able see the results via the NAVICA App Dashboard. All test results that are collected using the NAVICA app will be securely transmitted to Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The state of Colorado has a contract to Abbott for up 2 million tests to support this program as well as other school testing needs. These tests are regularly shipped to Colorado.
All schools are now eligible to enroll in Test to Stay. Participating schools will need to sign a Memorandum of Understanding. They are encouraged to implement the layered mitigation strategies outlined within the practical guide for operationalizing CDCs school guidance. Schools that are already enrolled in the School Screening Program must enroll separately in Test to Stay. CDPHE will mail the tests to the enrolled schools. Schools can also re-order any time.
No matter what vaccination status, anyone who experiences symptoms should be tested immediately. If a rapid test reveals no symptoms, the patient should be followed up with a PCR test. A positive rapid test result does not need to be confirmed. Any student or staff member who tests positive in the Test to Stay program, should isolate.
Continue to stay up to date by visiting covid19.colorado.gov.