After record-high rates of COVID-19 cases in Hull Public Schools, the numbers are ticking back down as Hull makes plans to start a new testing program.
The new program is an at-home rapid antigen test that will be self-administered weekly by students if their families choose to opt in. It will begin during February vacation, at which point the “Test and Stay” and contact tracing programs will be discontinued. The tests will not include those who have had the coronavirus in the past 90 days.
The “Test and Stay” program has allowed unvaccinated close contacts without symptoms to remain in school and be rapid-tested daily, so long as they tested negative. Vaccinated close contacts could also stay in school, but without testing.
While the discontinuation of the program may seem disconcerting, potential close contacts will still be allowed to stay in school so long as they do not show symptoms – regardless of vaccination status. Any individual who has symptoms can still be tested in school.
The new program feels almost similar to the pool testing we did last spring; it, too, utilized weekly tests. However, the main difference is that at-home testing is so much more convenient. There is no disruption in class time, and students will likely feel much more comfortable swabbing in the comfort of their own homes than in an awkward school hallway.
The validity of rapid tests has been doubted. While they are fairly accurate, they have been known to deliver false negatives for testers. But, given the return time of PCR tests, they are clearly the more feasible option and therefore worth the risk.
With cases going back down, it’s important to keep our momentum going, and careful, repetitive testing is definitely the right next step forward. If you haven’t yet, you can fill out the form at hullpublicschools.us to opt in by Jan. 28.
For more information or to opt in to any of the testing programs, visit hullpublicschools.us.
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