School districts, including Marysville, are using the program named Test to Stay and Learn in an attempt to prevent students affected by COVID-19 and quarantines from having a learning loss.
Test to Stay and Learn was altered to fit county COVID-19 numbers and needs of public schools, said Marysville schools Superintendent Mike Couch.
On Sept. 22, county superintendents, Kansas Department of Heath and Environment and Marshall County Health Department met on Zoom to discuss how the program could best fit the area schools.
“To prevent learning loss, MCHD will allow close contacts to attend school if they (students affected) will wear a mask,” Couch said. “However, if close contacts want to participate in extracurricular activities, they will need to take a lower nasal COVID-19 test and prove to be negative of COVID-19 daily.”
Some Marysville students who are football players were exposed to the virus after a Sept. 13 junior varsity game against Wamego. About 20 players were told to quarantine. Students who did not have symptoms could watch practice if they wore masks.
As of last Thursday, the district had one active positive student case at Marysville Junior-Senior High. So far this school year there have been eight positive cases there and two positive staff cases. Three students tested positive at Marysville Elementary School.
The health department tests close contacts. Couch said that when the district gets approval to be a testing site, trained personnel will test close contacts who want to participate in extracurricular activities.
Marshall County isolation and quarantine options say if vaccinated and asymptomatic, no quarantine will be assigned by the county health department. If a student has had COVID-19 and has recovered with no remaining symptoms the past six months since his or her infection, no quarantine will be assigned.
The Test to Stay and Learn Program requires that if a person is a close contact who has been exposed to a positive COVID-19 case and who does not live with the person, that person may attend school wearing a mask.
Those exposed at home are to follow the health department’s guidelines on a case-by-case basis. These cases may not be eligible for testing protocols.
Extracurricular activity participation requires the person to have parental consent and the student must take a rapid test at the beginning of each day of quarantine. If the test is negative, the student can attend school wearing a mask and participate in all activities. A COVID-19 test must be taken each school day until the 10-day quarantine period ends.
In Unified School District 223, which covers Hanover, Barnes and Linn schools, Superintendent Lee Schmidt said Hanover has had no COVID-19 cases this year.
The district works closely with Washington County Health Department and is expected to report positive cases when aware of them and help to identify close contacts.
Schmidt said there are four options for people who attend or work at the schools in the district. The options are to allow affected individuals who have been vaccinated to wear a mask to school for a 10-day period unless COVID-19 symptoms occur; stay home and quarantine for 10 days; get tested at school each morning and if the result is negative they can stay as long as they wear a mask and social distance for 10 days; or an individual can attend school and remain in a quarantine room for 10 days with a mask and social distance unless symptoms occur.
At USD 380, which covers Frankfort, Centralia and Vermillion, there were four active cases as of Friday. There was one positive student at Centralia and three in the early-childhood program at Vermillion. Since the start of the school year, the district had 12 students and two staff members test positive.
“We have two counties,” said USD 380 Superintendent Matt Rogers. “The Nemaha County side has different rules than the Marshall County side. Nemaha has no close-contact quarantines so we follow the advice of the county health official. On the Marshall County side they are quarantining close contacts. We do allow them to come to school if they wear a mask for the duration of the quarantine period.”
Those students can test daily for the presence of the virus or they can stay home and quarantine, he said.
Valley Heights did not have a Sept. 3 opening night for football because the entire varsity football team was quarantined. The district currently has four positive cases, all from household contacts, said Superintendent Melissa Kennedy.
Heights is following the Test to Stay and Learn Program, she said.