‘Test to Stay’ to start in Monroe County on Nov. 29

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Monroe County is allowing schools to implement “Test to Stay” in an effort to keep more kids in class as our community faces a rising number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Right now, if your unvaccinated child is considered a close contact to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, he or she is out of school whether they’re symptomatic or not for the length of their quarantine.

“That is unvaccinated students who are within 6 feet of an infected individual for more than 15 minutes,” explained Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza.

But come Monday, Nov. 29, that will change. As long as the student isn’t showing symptoms, he or she can come to school every day. They’ll be tested first thing and if they’re negative, they can stay and unlike in some other counties, the student can stay for classes and extra-circulars.

“We decided that this test is effective and performs very well in the setting and there’s no reason to exclude other school-related activities so test to stay will include instruction as well as all the school-sponsored activities performances, athletics and so on,” Dr. Mendoza said.

That doesn’t mean the child has total free reign though.

“It does not mean the individual is out of quarantine it only means that they can test to stay in school they would still need to proceed with all of the other aspects of quarantine,” Dr. Mendoza said, “meaning no sleepovers no house parties and no other activities out of school.”

School districts across Monroe County are working to get prepared, some may start to pilot the program next week. In other counties where “Test to Stay” is already in place, there have been some issues securing enough testing materials but Dr. Mendoza said they don’t believe that’ll be a problem here.

“We’ve done our calculations based on the number of people who are unvaccinated and who would need to be quarantined assuming that increases modestly, we still think there’s going to be ample test kits for the schools,” Dr. Mendoza said.

Vaccinated children who are exposed to COVID19 do not need to “Test to Stay” — as long as they are not showing any symptoms they can continue school and activities.