Some needed pandemic relief will soon be hitting Caledonia Central Supervisory Union schools.
Superintendent Mark Tucker announced on Friday that the much-anticipated Test to Stay program would begin on Monday, Nov. 29 — just after Thanksgiving break.
The voluntary program will be an alternative to home quarantine for unvaccinated students and staff who are identified as “close contacts” of a positive COVID-19 case in Danville, Barnet, Waterford, Peacham, Walden, Cabot and Twinfield Schools. Those who opt-in will be able to continue attending school during their “quarantine period” as long as they test negative on a rapid antigen test each morning.
“Many of you have already dealt with at least one, and sometimes three or more cycles of having a child home in quarantine because they were determined to be a close contact of someone who has contracted COVID-19,” wrote Tucker in Friday’s newsletter to parents.
The Test to Stay program requires a different consent form than the one required for participation in CCSU’s surveillance testing program. Tucker has noted that it will be difficult for an unvaccinated COVID-exposed student to opt-in and participate in the program immediately, thus he has been collecting consent forms for the past month.
“If you are thinking, ‘I’ll worry about this if it happens,’ please rethink that stance,” Tucker wrote. “I cannot guarantee you can get into the TTS cycle unless you have previously given consent, which can take a day or more to process once you click send on your consent form.”
Vaccinated students and staff do not need to quarantine after exposure unless they are symptomatic. The antigen tests used will be Abbot’s BinaxNow — also available at local drug stores — and the in-school program will be available at no cost to families.
Other “Responsive Testing” Programs
Tucker also detailed in brief two other parts of CCSU’s responsive testing programs: in-school PCR testing and take-home test kits.
In-school PCR testing — used to determine if students or staff can exit their quarantine period — has already been tried out at three of the Supervisory Union’s schools “to wide acclaim from the families who benefited from the convenience.” Those who opt-in to Test to Stay are also consenting to in-school PCR testing.
The third component of CCSU’s responsive testing programs will be take-home test kits. Tucker said that more information about this will be forthcoming as he and his team figure out some logistical considerations.
The forms for consenting to responsive or surveillance testing at CCSU schools are available online or in print.
CCSU Staff Vax-Or-Test Agreement Comes Into Effect
On Friday, CCSU’s memorandum of understanding with their three staff associations came into effect, meaning all staff must be either vaccinated against COVID-19 (and share proof thereof) or agree to participate in periodic testing. The memorandum was developed collaboratively and voted on by the associations and the CCSU board of directors several weeks ago.
If staff choose not to show proof of vaccination or participate in testing, the memorandum states that they will be subject to “progressive discipline.”
On Friday afternoon, Tucker said in an email that there have been “no issues yet.” During a school board meeting earlier this month, Tucker estimated that around 90 percent of staff have been vaccinated.