covid in schools

‘Screen and Stay' School COVID-19 Protocols Questioned

The Screen and Stay program requires parents to screen kids with a questionnaire who were close contacts for symptoms and allow them to continue to go to school if the close contact was another teacher or student with a mask.

The goal of the Screen and Stay program was designed to keep kids in school, but some districts have now suspended the program because of an increase in COVID-19 among students.

“There’s no data that the state of Connecticut has collected to understand how to keep our schools open,” House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora said. 

Candelora said the administration should have been focused on getting tests, instead of implementing this screening program.

“If we had a testing program in place you’re nipping it a lot quicker potentially,” Candelora added. 

Bristol Schools recently told parents it was no longer participating in the program because the kids who were using it ended up coming down with COVID-19, but it's in the minority. The state says more than 80% of school districts are using the program.

The Screen and Stay program requires parents to screen kids with a questionnaire who were close contacts for symptoms and allow them to continue to go to school if the close contact was another teacher or student with a mask.

“I’ve heard families were very good about checking their children before they came to school and not sending them if there were any symptoms,” Fran Rabinowitz, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, said. 

Rabinowitz said Screen and Stay is working.

“Overall it has allowed more students to stay in school and that’s our goal,” Rabinowitz said. 

Candelora said the state should have implemented a testing program.

“The infrastructure that would have to happen for that is extensive and that’s why Connecticut didn’t embark on it,” Rabinowitz said. 

In a survey compiled by the Education Department, schools that didn’t participate in the program said a majority of the quarantines resulted from close contact at mealtime or on the school bus and didn’t fall under the program.

“In situations where they’re unmasked and in the cafeteria or an exposure happens in a community,” John Frassinelli, division director of school health for the state Department of Education, says.

He says not every exposure qualifies for Screen and Stay.

“If a student is a close contact based on a birthday party outside of school then that doesn’t apply,” Frassinelli explained. 

Students and teachers who come in close contact over the holidays won’t be eligible for the program.

“I am concerned after the holidays what we will encounter in January and we just have to be ready for it. I’m also worried about staff numbers and whether or not we will have enough staff to cover the classes,” Rabinowitz said.

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