“Test to Stay” program to keep students healthy in the classroom

COLUMBIA, SC (WCBD) – South Carolina health officials are encouraging schools across the state to use a “Test to Stay” program aimed at ensuring healthy students can continue to learn in person.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control program allows for rapid testing of K-12 students who have been exposed to people infected with COVID-19. The hope is to keep more of these healthy students in the classroom.

“Rather than immediately moving close contacts into quarantine, TTS allows these students to remain in class if they test negative between Day 5 and Day 7 and show no symptoms,” DHEC said. “A second test, administered 24 hours after the first test, is encouraged if the test is available.”

DHEC has ordered more than a million rapid home tests, 300,000 of which will be delivered to schools by the end of the week. The rest will be sent to schools as they become available.

“We are aware that several school districts have concerns regarding updates to our COVID-19 school boards and our school and child care exclusion list. We know their goal is to keep more students in the schools,” said Dr. Edward Simmer, Director of DHEC. “DHEC shares this goal and ensures that schools and parents have access to rapid tests so that school systems can fully implement TTS, which allows most students to stay in school. It is the most effective way to maximize learning without sacrificing the well-being of our students and teachers.

Schools are also being asked to accept rapid home test results from parents as part of the program.

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