Test to Stay

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Test to Stay (TTS) is a protocol recently adopted by New York State and Sullivan County. On Friday, January 7, 2022, Sullivan County Public Health Services authorized Sullivan County school districts and BOCES to use TTS to help schools stay open for instruction.

Test to Stay allows a known exposure to a positive COVID case to return to work or school if they are asymptomatic and consent to three (3) NAAT or rapid antigen tests on a prescribed schedule over a seven-day period after exposure. Basically, a home COVID test is administered before the individual can go to school or work and is repeated two more times during the seven days unless recognition of the exposure is delayed or weekends or school breaks intervene. Sullivan BOCES will administer the prescribed testing for exposed asymptomatic individuals prior to the start of the school day.  

In addition to a negative NAAT or antigen test, symptomatic individuals must be well enough to participate in school. They must not have a runny nose or a cough severe enough to make mask wear difficult or unhygienic, be fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication, and meet other district requirements to return to school after a non-COVID illness.

The exposed person allowed to remain in school through TTS must be quarantined outside of school instruction/academic periods on weekends/holidays when the seven-day TTS period is active - During this time, no school test is required. The person should not participate in community activities or extracurricular activities, including clubs, sports, arts/performance activities, etc. after school/evenings. Please note that people participating in TTS are allowed to ride the school bus when following all existing guidance, including required masking.

Before a school district or BOCES can implement TTS, they must prepare written protocols and adopt a board policy. Sullivan BOCES is actively engaged in drafting the protocols, and the board is expected to adopt the policy at the January 18 BOE meeting. After the Board adopts the policy, it will take up to 10+ school days to implement the program. BOCES must obtain parental consent for students and staff before TTS is implemented. 

The following requirements remain in place:

  1. There is no exemption to the antigen or NAAT testing requirement for symptomatic vaccinated people.
  2. Individuals with symptoms attributable to pre-existing medical conditions (e.g., migraines, allergies) and are not new or worsening do not require school exclusion or testing.
  3. If the healthcare provider diagnoses a confirmed non-COVID-19 acute illness AND COVID-19 is not suspected, a note signed by the healthcare provider explaining the alternate diagnosis may be provided to allow a student, teacher, or staff member to participate in school without COVID-19 testing. Such individuals may participate in school according to the usual school and medical guidelines for the diagnosis.