FCPS ‘test to stay’ program hopes to keep children in classroom

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56/WKYT) – As COVID-19 cases rise, so are the number of students and teachers in quarantine.

As of Sept. 7, over 1,200 students and three employees are in isolation after exposure. But starting next week, students possibly exposed to COVID-19 have a ticket to stay in the classroom— a negative COVID test.

“As long as they continue to test negative, they continue to be in school,” said Brian Lawrence, chief technology officer for Gravity Diagnostics.

Gravity Diagnostics is partnering with the district for the “test to stay” program. How it works is straightforward. If a student is exposed to COVID, they’ll get a PCR test. If that’s negative, they’ll get a rapid test before school each morning for five days.

“At the end of the 5th day if they had tested negative for five consecutive days, then they’ve completed their testing protocol and they’re back in school without continued testing,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence said the process is quicker than the district’s current protocol of 10-14 days in quarantine.

“The test to stay protocol is a wonderful idea,” said Todd Burus, moderator of the Let Them Learn Facebook group.

Burus is also a Fayette County Public School parent who pushed for these tests.

“One to three percent of close contacts eventually become positive cases and so that’s a lot of, a lot of left-over kids that are missing out on time in the classroom,”Burus said.

Burus said one talking point for the district was how the program is resource-intensive, but he thinks the tests made a good use of the government funds we have available.

“I believe that schools are very important also as a place where, you know, some children are able to be guaranteed some meals, and even as a safe space for some children,” Burus said.

Looking ahead, Burus said the program starts next week for a few school, before it’s available for all students.

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