Lynden Schools knows the importance of keeping students in school, so the district has worked under the rules allowed by the state and health departments to create a test-to-stay program for any student deemed a close contact of an exposure to COVID-19 at school.
“With the new requirements, schools have more flexibility to use testing as a tool to stay at school,” says Tim Metz, Lynden Schools director of special programs. “If students are identified as a close contact at school due to exposure, they can stay at school if parents agree to testing.” Last year, the state rules required an automatic 10-day or 14-day quarantine for the students.
By creating a centralized testing site, first at the Main Street Campus and now at the old Fisher Elementary gym, district students and staff have a place they know they can get immediate rapid antigen testing with results within 15 minutes. Students and staff can also register for a PCR test that provides results in 24 to 48 hours. The testing kits and staffing—the site has four full-time employees—is funded through the Department of Health in a program available to all schools that have done the necessary work to apply and receive the funding.
“It’s been a significant amount of logistical work to get this up and running,” Metz says. “Now, instead of triggering entire classrooms as close contacts and sending them home, we have a solution. Through testing the students can remain in school.”