‘Test to Stay’ only allows kids to stay for class

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — “Test to Stay” is likely coming to Monroe County but families in surrounding counties where it’s already in place say it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Monroe County Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza says he’s hoping to authorize a “test to stay” policy soon.

“We understand that there is significant interest among many schools in our community for an option that would allow unvaccinated students who are exposed to COVID-19 to continue with in-person instruction as long as they feel well and test negative for the virus,” said Monroe County Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza, “at this point, my team and I have reviewed the science and feel that “test to stay” is a reasonable approach as long as the substantial concerns around equity and logistics can be resolved. We are in the process of working through those details and I anticipate being able to recommend a test to stay option once we have finalized all of these conversations with the schools.”

Many parents have received a call like Troy Duerr got earlier this week.

“It was Monday around 2:30 p.m., I got a phone call from the school nurse saying ‘Hey, Jonah got exposed on Friday can you come pick him up?’” he recalls.

Jonah just turned 12, he’s in the 7th grade and was set to have his first official swim practice on Monday which he had to miss. The Duerrs live in Ontario County where Test to Stay is already in place.

“The testing starting Wednesday morning. I said, great, what time do you want me to have him there and she said, oh, he can ride the bus in… if he’s negative he can stay in school but then he has to ride the early bus home, no extracurriculars, no nothing,” Duerr said.

When Jonah returns home, he returns to full quarantine.

“Tell me how it makes sense that my son can ride a school bus full of predominantly unvaccinated kids, if he tests negative, he can stay in school all day but he can’t stay to make up the science test that he missed, he can’t stay to do anything as soon as he walks in the door I am under orders that are a misdemeanor if I don’t follow that I have to isolate him in his bedroom,” Duerr said.

The county health departments across our region say they are following the state guidance which reads: The exposed person who is allowed to remain in school through TTS must still be quarantined outside of school instruction/academic periods.

Dr. Mendoza says regardless of which county you live in, Test to Stay can be avoided altogether if your child is fully vaccinated.

“Asymptomatic close-contacts will not need to test to stay if they are vaccinated, vaccinated students won’t have to test to stay, they simply get to stay,” he said.

That means they can stay for class and for any extra-curricular activities.