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State education department adds ‘test to stay’ option for school quarantines


Missouri's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education updated its reopening and operating guidance to add a "test to stay" option to avoid student quarantines.

The change comes as school districts continue to deal with students out of class for quarantines. Columbia Public Schools reports 166 students are in quarantine as of Wednesday, according to its website.

The new guidance from the state education department describes "test to stay" as, "a strategy that enables a close contact to continue activities during the quarantine period through participation in frequent testing."

DESE said students, teachers, and staff identified as close contacts can continue to attend school and participate in extracurricular activities if certain criteria are met.

Under the updated guidance, the close contact may not use the "test to stay" option if they were exposed outside of school.

DESE also said there may be other close contacts that may not qualify for "test to stay" and the final decision will be up to the school district's local public health agency.

Test to stay will only be permitted for close contacts not exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, throughout the duration of the quarantine time.

Masks also must be worn, "consistently and correctly," at all times in order to qualify for the test to stay option.

Finally, students who want to take advantage must receive at least three rapid tests, during the first seven days of quarantine.

  • Test One: Upon identification as a close contact (unless already participating in a screening testing program)
  • Tests Two and Three: A minimum of two additional rapid antigen tests, preferably on two non-consecutive school days within the first seven days of the quarantine period.

The testing is conducted when students arrive at school, with a negative test result required before being allowed to attend in person.

Students and staff looking to participate in extracurricular activities must be tested each day, before being allowed to participate.

DESE adds if an extracurricular event takes place on a weekend or other time where a school is unable to administer a test, the close contact must stay in quarantine and not participate.

The CDC is also drafting guidance on the test to stay practice being used as opposed to quarantines, according to a White House call.

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Ben Fein

Ben Fein is a multimedia journalist for ABC 17 News. You can usually see his reports on weekend mornings or weekdays at 5, 6 and 6:30 p.m. on KMIZ.


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