La Crosse School District to start ‘Test and Stay’ COVID program to keep students in in-person classes

La Crosse Schools First Day

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — The La Crosse School District will launch a “Test and Stay” program Wednesday in an effort to let students avoid being quarantined from school if they have a negative COVID test each day during their quarantine period.

A letter the district sent to families Friday said, “We know from the cases we have had in schools that they rarely lead to transmission to other close contacts.”

The Test and Stay protocol can keep students safe at school as they remain learning in person as much as possible, the letter says.

“Beginning Wednesday, October 27, 2021, unvaccinated students identified as close contacts to a school-related positive case will be able to stay at school for the duration of the quarantine period if they receive a negative test result each school day and remain symptom-free,” according to the letter.

“As a reminder, for those that are able, vaccination is another way to avoid quarantine as a close contact,” the letter adds.

The district also posted an explanation of administrators’ reasoning on its website:

“While we are seeing the success of being in person full time this fall, we still have too many students with significant interruptions to their in-person learning due to quarantine,” the explanation states. “These interruptions not only affect a student’s ability to be in school, but also are a significant stressor on families.”

A review of district COVID data revealed trends that support the Test and Stay program, according to the explanation, which also explains the rati

“1. We want healthy students in school as much as possible. We know that chronic absenteeism (for any reason) leads to an increased likelihood of negative outcomes for students.

“2. We want to limit the spread of COVID in our schools and community. We do have spread in our schools, therefore we cannot fully abandon contact tracing efforts without the additional mitigation strategy through testing.

“3. Our current mitigation strategies are limiting spread of COVID in our schools

“a. Only 3% of school close contacts eventually tested positive (in other words, 97% of our close contacts stay healthy).

“b. For every case related to school spread, we are quarantining 33 students that do not develop COVID.

“c. Minimal spread in our schools is attributed to normal classroom/school routines with proper mitigation strategies in place. Therefore, the risk involved in a Test and Stay program should be no greater than we are currently experiencing. This is supported by research related to similar programs.”

More information on the test and stay program is on the school district’s website.

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