Hudson schools superintendent celebrates COVID-19 ‘Test and Stay’ program

292
COVID-19 signage adorns the doors of Hudson’s Forest Avenue Elementary School. Though coronavirus precautions continue, school district officials are celebrating the success of their Test and Stay program. (Photo/Jesse Kucewicz)

HUDSON – The Hudson Public Schools’ in-school COVID-19 testing program has helped limit quarantines, superintendent Marco Rodrigues said at a School Committee meeting earlier this month.

The district’s test and stay program is part of a state-led initiative to conduct COVID-19 tests in school in order to prevent out-of-school quarantines. It has created a situation where no students have to be quarantined due to coronavirus exposure unless they are symptomatic, Rodrigues said on Nov. 9. 

“The Test and Stay program is one of the greatest things we’ve implemented through COVID-19,” Rodrigues said. “It has been a great success for us.” 

As of Nov. 9, Rodrigues said, the Test and Stay program had saved 132 classroom instruction days that students in close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 otherwise would have missed. 

School Committee member Steven Smith praised the program.

“I think of that as a great thing,” he said. “Those students were able to stay in school and weren’t impacted just because they were exposed, and we haven’t seen transmission through this. This program is probably one of the best things we have in place to keep kids in school.”

Test and Stay programs are up and running in districts around the state. They allow districts to identify close contacts of individuals with COVID-19 and divert those close contacts into a daily testing regime. Individuals who test negative are able to proceed with their day instead of missing instructional time. 

Test and Stay is subject to some restrictions, though. The ability to take a COVID-19 test and remain in school can’t be utilized for exposure that happens outside the school building. 

For example, nine students at Quinn Middle School who were exposed to one particular positive case were not eligible for the Test and Stay program, Rodrigues said. 

That limitation “is not our choosing,” Rodrigues added, noting that he had reached out to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education about leniency in such cases.

“They said ‘no,’ but they are reviewing that position, because I’m sure Hudson’s not the first one experiencing that issue with students being in close contact outside the school setting,” Rodrigues told the School Committee. 

If a student does need to quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure, that student is eligible to participate in the district’s out-of-school tutoring program. 

As of Nov. 9, 19 of the 31 students eligible had participated, Rodrigues said. Participation in the tutoring program is optional. 

“Our job is, when they return, to make sure they can continue to progress,” Rodrigues said of students who do have to miss school due to COVID-19.

RELATED CONTENT

Hudson Public Schools lays out refined priorities, celebrates low COVID-19 rates

Hudson COVID-19 testing program slowed by state contractor delays

Hudson Schools organizing tutoring options for quarantined students