South Carolina DHEC pushes Test-To-Stay program for schools
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) – South Carolina school districts are being urged to adopt the ‘Test-To-Stay’ program for students. The extra push comes today from South Carolina DHEC as advisors say it will keep children in the classroom longer.
The program allows rapid antigen tests or PCR tests that have a quick 24 hours or less turn around time to be used on k-12 students who have been exposed to COVID-19 but don’t have symptoms, rather than immediately moving that student to quarantine.
“Test to Stay allows those student to stay in the classroom if they test negative on a test between days 5 and 7, they wear a mask for 10 days after their exposure, and are not experiencing any symptoms,” says Doctor Brannon Traxler with South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental.
DHEC has ordered millions of test for South Carolina schools participating in the test to stay program. Doctor Traxler says since early January, DHEC has encouraged school districts to go this route but there is some hesitancy. “There has been some school districts who are concerned about making sure that this was accessible to all students, not just ones that have access to resources easier than others potentially. So thats where our ability to now help provide some test to the schools to help fill in gaps.”
There are also concerns over false results on rapid tests.
“There are higher rates of false positives or false negatives with the rapid antigen tests than there are with the PCR tests. However those are not high rates still especially if you are looking at each individual child in a single test, the chances and the rate is very low,” says Doctor Traxler.
Doctor Traxler says the Test-To-Stay program only applies to students. The program should only be used for teachers and staff in a true crisis scenario, such as where a school would have to close and go to virtual learning due to staffing shortages.