Throughout the last year the Benton Franklin County Health Department has partnered with school districts throughout the county, including NFSD, to provide limited and voluntary rapid Covid testing for students and staff upon request. This has allowed staff to stay on the job and has allowed parents an easy way to determine if their students have contracted the Covid virus. In the spring of last school year, the district was also able to use this testing strategy to meet the requirements of the WIAA for athletes who participate in indoor, high risk sports such as wrestling and cheer.
The NFSD will now be expanding our voluntary testing program and offering "Test to Stay", a COVID-19 testing program, in all schools as a service to our families. The program is for non-symptomatic students who are identified as a close contact of an individual at school or a school-related event who tests positive for COVID-19. Students must have a parent or legal guardian consent form on file with the school prior to testing. No student will be tested without an additional phone call and verbal consent just prior to testing.
Previously, non-symptomatic students designated as close contacts were required to quarantine at home. The goal of the program is to allow students who are identified as close contacts to remain in school as long as they are symptom free and test negative for COVID-19. This does not allow them to participate in extra-curricular activities, it only allows them to remain in a classroom setting.
The district is partnering with the Washington Department of Health's "Learn To Return (L2R)" program, which removes barriers for students to access testing, and has been approved by the Benton-Franklin Health District to follow the Test To Stay protocol.
If a student is identified as a close contact and they are non-symptomatic, school personnel will contact the parent/legal guardian to let them know. Parents/legal guardians will have the option to have their student tested. If parents would like their student to stay in school rather than quarantine, students will be tested twice after being identified as a close contact – the first on day one and the second on day five after exposure. If tests are negative for COVID-19, the student may remain in school as long as they do not have symptoms.
Consent forms must be received by the school prior to testing. Consent forms will be handed out and collected at student led conferences this week if parents are interested in this free, voluntary, service.
Kids First, Education Always