For parents in Central Oregon like Melissa Olin, who has a 9-year-old daughter getting the vaccine soon, quarantining due to COVID exposure takes away learning experiences from their children.
“I think that the more opportunities they have to be around their teachers and other kids, the more they benefit,” Olin said.
That worry will be no more with a proposed “test to stay” program coming from the Oregon Department of Education.
The COVID tests will be offered to all unvaccinated children.
“When somebody is a close contact for COVID-19 in a school setting, they will be immediately offered a test. If they take the test and it is negative they will stay in school,” said Colt Gill, the Director of the Department of Education.
A negative cCOVID test will replace the 10-day quarantine currently required for children exposed.
The testing will occur twice, once after the exposure is reported, and another seven days after.
Gill announced the program earlier this week.
The state hopes to launch the program later this month or early next month.
“Our school nurse would call a parent or guardian, ask them for permission to test the student, and explain the process,” said Sheila Miller, a spokeswoman with the Redmond School District.
There are now 35 active COVID cases in the Redmond School District, under the new program, classmates exposed to those students could stay in class if they tested negative.
“If it is implemented, we will move forward with that immediately,” said Miller.
Bend-La Pine Schools declined to comment until further information is available from the state.
COVID tests would be provided by the state – and will come at no cost to families.
It’s a sign of relief for some parents around Central Oregon.
“I’d like to see more normalcy back in their lives,” said Olin.