Montgomery Co. schools developing COVID-19 test-to-stay program as quarantine alternative

Students in Montgomery County, Maryland, public schools may stay for in-person learning despite coming in close contact with someone with COVID-19 in a new test-to-stay program currently under development.

In a statement to WTOP, Montgomery County Public Schools said it is proposing to give students daily rapid tests after exposure to a known COVID-19 case.

“Instead of staying home, students whose parents consented would be rapid tested daily for 5-7 days after the exposure but would be allowed to keep coming to schools if they tested negative and followed the remainder of the basic requirements (temperature checks, masking, etc.),” Acting County Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Earl Stoddard said via email.

The school system said its new testing plan is being developed and drafted in the coming week with the Maryland Department of Health.

Citing research published in The Lancet and Massachusetts Department of Education protocols, Montgomery County Public Schools said the program would become an alternative to the current quarantine protocols.

Bethesda Beat first reported the new COVID-19 testing policy plans.

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The public school system said plans are already in motion, but there have been issues.

Over the last 10 days, five people on the school health staff have resigned. Stoddard said the losses are “a reflection that we have pushed our staff to the breaking point.”

“We are currently in the process of bringing in additional contract staff to support the school-based testing program overall,” Stoddard said.

At the moment, Montgomery County Public Schools is “reticent to commit to a timeline,” but a rollout is likely to occur “in waves across the system as staffing are brought on,” Stoddard said.

A projected timeline will be announced once new personnel is acquired and background checks are completed.

Those new hires would also support the vaccination effort for children between 5 and 11-years-old, once approved for use.

Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

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