We are pleased to announce Mercer Island School District (MISD) has been approved to participate in a Test-to-Stay Protocol for unvaccinated students that are close contacts in the school setting. This protocol was developed by the MISD nurses in conjunction with Public Health Seattle-King County and Washington Department of Health. The protocol has also been approved and reviewed by the MISD Covid Safety Team. This new protocol will help us both keep students safe and limit the time students are out of the classroom.
Test-to-Stay Protocol Overview
MISD Test-to-Stay Program
The Washington Department of Health’s Test-to-Stay Program provides school districts an opportunity for a modified quarantine for unvaccinated students identified as K-12 close contacts of COVID-19 cases. This program is designed to help reduce exclusion from in-person instruction if all required mitigation measures have been followed and testing is used as a method of screening as outlined below.
Who is eligible for the test to stay program?
The DOH Test-to-Stay Program and associated modified quarantine apply to situations when a student is exposed to COVID-19 in school. Students who are exposed outside of school (e.g. household exposure, community exposure, private sports league exposure, etc.) are not eligible to participate, must quarantine at home, and follow the standard quarantine protocol used by the school district in coordination with their local public health agency.
What is the protocol that will be followed?
Students may continue to attend class in a modified quarantine status for the full 7 days after exposure, if they:
- Are tested at least 2-3 times for modified quarantine; AND
- Are asymptomatic; AND
- Continue to wear a mask; AND
- Continue to quarantine from (i.e., not participate in) all extracurricular activities in and out
of school, including sports, and other activities (e.g., scouts, music lessons, etc.) for the entirety of their modified quarantine period. This includes group childcare or youth development programs provided before and after school, which should not be attended during modified quarantine. Days of testing will be determined by the school nurse or COVID test to stay coordinator under the advice of Local Health Jurisdiction. Parents will be notified of testing timelines.
- Antigen tests, given the ability to obtain results within minutes and the need to identify positive close contacts and isolate in a timely fashion, should be the preferred testing modality. MISD will utilize BinaxNOW Rapid test or similar rapid antigen test.
- Collection of diagnostic specimens for asymptomatic persons during quarantine may occur in schools, healthcare settings, or other locations supervised by school or healthcare personnel. Home rapid test results will not be accepted under the direction of PHSKC.
- If a student does not test positive for COVID-19 during the modified quarantine, students may resume group child care/youth development attendance and extracurricular and community activities after 7 days have passed since their exposure but should still continue to monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days after their exposure and wear masks when in public at all times.
- If a student tests positive for COVID-19 at any time, they must isolate at home and follow DOH isolation guidance.
- Students who opt out of testing are not eligible for the modified quarantine, as described above. They will have the option to quarantine at home for 7 days with a negative PCR test on day 5 or if opting for no testing they will stay home for a full 10 days.
- Fully vaccinated students who meet the definition of close contact and remain asymptomatic are not required to quarantine or participate in the DOH Test to Stay Program. However, they are required to test 5-7 days after their exposure date.
- Fully vaccinated students who meet the definition of close contact and develop symptoms should self-isolate and be tested for COVID-19. MISD will require PCR testing in this setting. The student must stay home while PCR results are pending. If PCR results are negative, they may return to school following MISD illness return to school protocols in consultation with their school nurse.
- Unvaccinated students who are symptomatic must be evaluated for COVID-19 infection and are not eligible for modified quarantine unless they receive a documented negative viral test after symptom onset. A molecular test also known as a PCR test is required.
Do parents and guardians need to provide consent before testing begins?
Mercer Island School District must receive permission from parents/guardians for students to receive school-based testing. When an unvaccinated student is considered a close contact of someone in the school setting that has tested positive, parents will be sent a consent form to complete should they wish for their child to participate in the MISD Test-to-Stay Program.
Modified Quarantine and Test-to-Stay Program is for unvaccinated students only. A modified quarantine is not an option for teachers, staff, or other adults.