Montgomery Co. Schools Develop Testing Program to Stay COVID-19 as Alternative to Quarantine

A new testing program under development may allow Montgomery County students to stay for in-person learning despite close contact with someone with COVID-19.

Students at public schools in Montgomery County, Md., May stay for in-person learning despite close contact with someone with COVID-19 as part of a new testing program to stay in development.

In a statement to the OMCP, Montgomery County Public Schools said they offered to give students daily rapid tests after exposure to a known case of COVID-19.

“Instead of staying at home, students whose parents consented would be tested promptly daily for 5-7 days after exposure, but would be allowed to continue coming to schools if they were negative and followed the rest of the basic requirements (temperature controls, masking, etc.), ”Acting Deputy County General Manager Earl Stoddard said via email.

The school system said its new testing plan is being developed and drafted in the coming week with the Maryland Department of Health.

Citing research published in The Lancet and Massachusetts Department of Education Protocols, Montgomery County Public Schools said the program would become an alternative to current quarantine protocols.

Bethesda beat first reported the new COVID-19 testing policy plans.

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The public school system said plans were already underway, but there were problems.

In the past 10 days, five school health workers have quit. Stoddard said the losses are “a reflection of the fact that we have pushed our staff to the breaking point”.

“We are currently in the process of recruiting additional contract staff to support the school-based testing program as a whole,” said Stoddard.

At the moment, Montgomery County public schools are “reluctant to commit to a schedule,” but a rollout is likely to occur “in waves through the system as staff are recruited,” Stoddard said .

A planned timeline will be announced once new staff are recruited and background checks are completed.

These new recruits would also support the vaccination effort for children aged 5 to 11, once approved for use.

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