La Crosse School District’s ‘Test and Stay’ program aims to keep students in class instead of quarantining

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — Beginning Wednesday, unvaccinated, contact-traced students in  the La Crosse School District will have the opportunity to take a COVID test to stay in class.

Superintendent Aaron Engel says every school-spread related COVID-19 case now is requiring 33 students to quarantine. These students are missing up to two weeks of school.

“Very few students end up testing positive here at school from a close contact. Only 3 percent,” Engel said.

So far this year, students and parents have faced COVID obstacles.

“My son, he was just out. Because someone in his class had it, he had to stay home for like four or five days,” said Taryish Kinard, a parent of Spence Elementary students.

“My kids have both already had to quarantine as close contacts. It’s a pain for them to try to learn at home. So It’s just not a good learning environment, and it disrupts the class, too,” said Cassidy Groth, another parent.

With the new “Test and Stay” program, Engel hopes to help some students skip that quarantine process.

In the program, close contacts who test negative on campus each school day and stay symptom-free can continue attending in person.

Those tested outside of the school can also show proof of a negative test each day.

The district has learned that an in-person environment is necessary for most, especially young kids, Engel said.

“We just want to alleviate as many burdens and barriers as possible to keep kids learning in person,” he said.

This “Test and Stay” initiative is entirely optional. Groth and Kinard both said they plan to take advantage of it if their children have close contacts again, but some still plan to choose quarantine over testing.

“I would school her at home. I wouldn’t let her. I mean if they had the simple test where they swabbed your cheek or something, that would be one thing,” said Bill Schott, a parent of a Spence Elementary student.

Even so, Engel hopes this keeps the student body healthy and learning.

“We want to educate kids as best we can and keep them safe. We feel a Test and Stay program will continue to meet both of those needs,” Engel said.

Negative test results from this program will allow students to go to school and attend school activities. However, Those who are identified as close contacts will not be able to go to athletics because of the increased risk.

Written parent permission is required for students to get tested at school. Parents can opt in through Skyward.

Parents can also opt out of this program. If so, their child will have to quarantine for up to 14 days.

You can read the school district’s full “Test-and-Stay-Parent-Notification” here.

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