Cape to implement COVID-19 test-to-stay program

Fulton: Initiative will keep more students, staff in school
January 7, 2022

The Cape Henlopen School District will launch a new COVID-19 testing initiative designed to keep more students and staff in school, Superintendent Bob Fulton said at the Jan. 5 Lewes Board of Health meeting. 

Fulton said the test-to-stay program will provide testing opportunities for asymptomatic people who are exposed to someone with the virus and would otherwise have to be quarantined, Fulton said. 

These exposed students or staff who do not have symptoms could come to school each day, provided they test negative, Fulton said.

“It allows for less students and staff to be out if they aren’t positive and they don’t have symptoms,” Fulton said.

The district hasn’t experienced staffing shortages because of quarantined employees as other districts have, likely due to the high number of vaccinated employees, Fulton said; the vaccination rate for professional staff was 90 percent at one time. 

Other districts had postponed the start of in-school instruction after the winter break, but Cape schools were set to open as scheduled Jan. 3, before the snowstorm caused school closures.

Unvaccinated staff must present a negative test result weekly, Fulton said. Testing will be available once a week in each building, he said, and selected schools, including Cape High and the Sussex Consortium, will continue to host community testing events with Curative.

“I still firmly believe the best place for students is in school, in person, unless our data show otherwise,” Fulton said. “In fact, I think it’s a safer place because a lot of times, when students are in other, less-structured areas or places, we see positive cases increase. When kids are in school in a more structured environment, we don’t see that.”

After the meeting, Director of Instructional Support LouAnn Hudson said the weekly testing and test-to-stay programs, through a partnership with Quidel Corporation and the State of Delaware, may begin Monday, Jan. 10 or Monday, Jan. 17, once Quidel has finalized staffing.

Students and staff will be able to sign up and register for the tests that will be available once a week at each school, Hudson said.

The test-to-stay program will be offered 4 to 7 p.m., Sunday through Thursday at Cape High and Milton Elementary, Hudson said. This program will be available only to those students and staff who school officials have identified through contract tracing as someone who has been exposed to a positive case and would need to quarantine, Hudson said.

These individuals include students and staff who are not vaccinated, whose second dose of the vaccination occurred more than six months ago, and who are not boosted. 

Students and staff who have been vaccinated and boosted do not need to quarantine or participate in test-to-stay, Hudson said. Both the weekly and test-to-stay COVID-19 tests are all rapid antigen tests, Hudson said. Information will be sent to families once the testing schedule is finalized.

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