Fayette Superintendent Demetrus Liggins on Monday identified the seven Lexington schools that will participate in a pilot “test to stay” program, beginning Sept. 27.
Test-to-stay policies allow students to circumvent quarantine requirements through daily or regular COVID-19 screenings.
The schools in the pilot are Breckinridge, Clays Mill, Dixie, James Lane Allen, and Julius Marks elementary schools, as well as Crawford and Jessie Clark middle schools.
The Fayette school district had 1, 244 students and five staff members in quarantine as of Monday. Since the beginning of the school year on Aug. 11, there have been 1, 470 student cases of COVID. There have been 231 staff cases of COVID. There have been 8,920 student quarantines and 75 staff quarantines.
Liggins confirmed Monday that a young male student in the district has been hospitalized with COVID and was on a ventilator when Liggins spoke with his family last week. He said a second student has also been hospitalized.
“We’re not going to be able to release any details on the students,” district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall told the Herald-Leader.
The test-to-stay pilot schools were chosen based on the numbers of COVID-19 cases and quarantines they have experienced recently.
Liggins moved Dixie to remote learning from Wednesday through Friday of last week. Students returned to in-person learning Monday.
Fayette district officials said they tried to select schools in many different areas of town, in order to get a good population sample. If the program is deemed effective it could be expanded to other schools, Liggins said.
The New York Times reported Sunday that an increasing number of school districts nationwide are turning to programs called “test-to-stay” or modified quarantine to “keep more children in the classroom and avoid disrupting the work lives of their parents.”
“This program has worked safely and successfully in school districts across the U.S. and we are excited to give our children this opportunity,” Liggins said in a news release. “We know that in-person learning is best for our students and we want to keep them in school as much as possible.”
Liggins said given the current acceleration of COVID-19 cases the greater Fayette County community is experiencing, a growing number of FCPS students have been placed in quarantine because of potential exposures both on and off campus.
“Thankfully, we have found that it is very rare for students to develop COVID-19 because of an in-school exposure. Most cases of COVID-19 are spread through household or community contacts,” he said.
To reduce the amount of school missed by students in quarantine the optional program will allow students who are exposed to the virus in school-related settings only to continue to attend school If they are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
Students must test negative for COVID-19 during free on-campus testing before school on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
“We are calling this program ‘Test to Stay in School,’ and will be piloting it in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Kentucky Department of Health, and Lexington-Fayette County Health Department,” the news release said.
Senate Bill 1, recently passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in a special session, requires the Kentucky Department for Public Health to create a model “Test to Stay” policy.