Dec 3, 2021
Over the past year and a half, the number of students and staff placed in quarantine has been tremendous. Both parties have been forced to participate in remote learning while enduring the quarantine period even though they remained healthy. While a valiant attempt by everyone to maintain education during challenging times, the school district recognizes remote learning is not in anyone’s best interests.
Recent statements from CDC indicate “Test-to-Stay” strategies, when combined with regular mitigation measures, as a promising practice for minimizing the disruption of quarantine on students, families, and schools while maintaining a safe and healthy learning environment. Based on the CDC statements, the PA DOH has issued preliminary guidance for school leaders who wish to adopt test-to-stay in their schools.
Beginning Monday, December 6, 2021, The Portage Area School District will implement a Test-to-Stay (TTS) program. Individuals deemed close contacts of an exposure to the virus can continue in-person learning so long as they wear a face covering in schools, remain asymptomatic, and serially test negative for COVID-19 during what would be the quarantine time.
After being deemed a close contact, individuals who wish to avoid quarantine and remain with in-person learning must:
- Remain asymptomatic;
- Wear a face covering while in school buildings;
- Be tested for the virus within 2-4 days of the exposure;
- Be re-tested for the virus within 5-7 days of the exposure. (test 1 and 2 cannot be administered on consecutive days)
The following test results will be considered eligible to fulfill the testing requirements of the TTS program:
- Rapid antigen tests administered on-site through the district’s testing program. Parents/guardians of students and individual staff members who choose to enroll in the TTS program and be tested in-school must actively consent to testing conducted for the program.
- Rapid antigen tests administered through a health care provider
- As per CDC and PA DOH, at-home tests are not eligible for meeting testing requirements for participation in the district’s TTS program
If an individual test positive or becomes symptomatic at any point during the TTS program, they should immediately isolate. Symptomatic individuals will no longer be eligible to participate in TTS and must quarantine as per CDC recommended protocols.
The TTS program is only intended for school-based exposures. Individuals who were exposed to COVID-19 in non-school settings (e.g., household exposure) are not eligible for TTS under any circumstances and should continue to follow the latest quarantine protocol.
TTS may not be an appropriate strategy for all individuals. Parents/guardians and individual staff members may elect to NOT participate in TTS, and instead follow the normal CDC recommended protocol for exposure.
Please note that the TTS program guidelines are subject to change, or be rescinded, as additional data become available. The school district will follow guidance as provided by CDC and/or PA DOH.
Eric Zelanko, Superintendent
Portage Area School District
84 Mountain Ave.
Portage, PA 15946
(814) 736-9636 ext 1560