7 Fairfax Co. schools launch test-to-stay programs

Fairfax County will launch test-to-stay programs at seven public schools Monday.

The participating schools include South Lakes, Robinson, Katherine Johnson Middle School, Glasgow Middle School, Bush Hill Elementary School, Baileys Primary and Hybla Valley Elementary School.

The launch comes as part of a statewide pilot program first detailed in December.

Test-to-stay allows unvaccinated students deemed close contacts of someone who tests positive to remain in school instead of quarantining at home. The process requires exposed students to take a rapid test every morning for five days after being exposed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fully vaccinated students exposed to someone who tests positive for the coronavirus don’t need to quarantine unless they develop symptoms.

The school system says eligible students must be unvaccinated, asymptomatic and identified as a close contact through exposure that occurred at school, doing school-sponsored extracurricular activities or during bus transportation to or from instruction.

Dr. Gigi Gronvall, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, said the concept of test-to-stay is “fantastic” because it avoids unnecessary quarantines but noted it may be “harder to implement than people realize.”

“It’s certainly better than keeping people at home for four or five days unnecessarily because it’s really important for kids to be at school,” Gronvall said.

Prince William County and Arlington schools are among other Virginia school systems that announced intentions to launch a test-to-stay program.

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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