CDPHE: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment launches Test to Stay school testing program

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Today, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment launches an additional school testing program that will supplement testing resources, help students and staff continue in-person learning after contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, and reduce the burden on parents. 

The Test to Stay Program, which begins today, provides a pathway out of quarantine for students and staff with school-associated exposures to COVID-19 if they remain asymptomatic and test negative twice. An exposed student or staff member will take the first test as soon as they are notified they have been exposed. If this first test is negative, they may stay in school so long as they wear a well-fitting mask and remain asymptomatic. They should then test again five to seven days after their exposure to COVID-19. If the second test is also negative, and they remain asymptomatic, the student or staff member can continue to remain at school. Staff and students must wear a well-fitting mask consistently and correctly while around others for 10 days following their exposure to a positive case, even if their rapid tests are negative and regardless of masking policies at that school. 

School administrators may also choose to include staff and students with non-household community exposures to participate in Test to Stay. 

The program is open to everyone, but individuals who are up-to-date on their vaccinations do not have to quarantine after being exposed to someone at school who tested positive for COVID-19. Individuals are considered up-to-date if they have received all the recommended vaccinations, including a third dose for those 12 and older. Unvaccinated individuals who choose not to participate in Test to Stay and who are exposed to a positive case at school will not be allowed to remain at school and will need to complete the normal five-day quarantine, followed by five days of wearing a well-fitting mask in school. 

“We are committed to helping ensure students continue in-person learning and are providing schools with a  menu of testing resources to help make that happen,” Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist, said. “We encourage schools to enroll in this and other testing programs so students can continue to benefit from being in the classroom.” 

Test to Stay complements a variety of already available testing options for schools. Schools also can take advantage of the free School Screening Testing Program, which provides wraparound testing services, including coordination of testing logistics, test administration, and reporting of results. Schools also can request tests and develop their own testing program. In addition, CDPHE provides surge testing resources while the state experiences high disease transmission. 

In the Test to Stay program, CDPHE will provide schools with Abbott BinaxNOW rapid over-the-counter tests, and the schools will distribute them to eligible staff and students. Staff and students will report their test results in Abbott’s NAVICA app/reporting platform, and schools will be able to see the results on the NAVICA app Dashboard. All test results collected by the NAVICA app are securely transmitted to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The state of Colorado has a contract with Abbott for up to 2 million tests to support this program and other school testing needs. These tests come to Colorado in regular shipments.  

Test to Stay enrollment is now open to all schools. Participating schools will be asked to complete a Memorandum of Understanding and are encouraged to institute the layered mitigation strategies outlined in the practical guide for operationalizing CDC’s school guidance. Schools already enrolled in the School Screening Program will need to enroll separately in Test to Stay. CDPHE will ship tests to the enrolled schools, and enrolled schools can re-order at any time. 

Anyone who develops symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, should get tested immediately and isolate. Individuals who have symptoms but test negative with a rapid test should follow up with a PCR test. Positive rapid result tests do not need to be confirmed. Any staff or student who tests positive while participating in the Test to Stay program should isolate. 

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CDPHE: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment launches Test to Stay school testing program