TRENTON, NJ – As schools across the state struggle to contend with the growing number of students forced to stay home due to COVID exposure, Senator Declan O’Scanlon is again calling on Murphy Administration to implement sensible “test-to-stay” procedures.
Students who have been exposed to COVID have faced quarantine period of as many as 14 days. During that time, they are unable to attend school or participate in sports or other activities. This week, the Administration reduced the quarantine for unvaccinated students to seven days after contact with a COVID-positive person, but O’Scanlon said that isn’t enough.
“The Governor should have shown some leadership and gone further. Quarantining dozens of students and keeping them out of the classroom has interfered with students and schools,” said O’Scanlon (R-13). “A seven-day quarantine is better than two weeks, but it is still unnecessarily disruptive.
“Implementing test-to-stay in our schools would be one of the most beneficial policies enacted since the beginning of the pandemic,” O’Scanlon said. “It just makes sense. Students need it, schools need it, and parents need it.”
Test-to-stay is a protocol that would allow exposed asymptomatic students to remain in the classroom and receive daily rapid tests, rather than the harsher mandatory at-home quarantines. After exposure, students are tested each day to confirm they are COVID negative.
O’Scanlon called on Murphy to implement test-to-stay at the beginning of the school year, citing examples of New Jersey schools that quarantined hundreds of students the year before.
At the time, O’Scanlon said: “One of our local school districts had over 640 people quarantined last year. That’s over 6,000 lost days of education, productivity, and one or two parents out of work. This is in only one district. If there is a way to avoid these excessive and unnecessary quarantine issues, we must seize it RIGHT NOW.”
Nothing changed, however, and now schools are reporting rampant disciplinary problems that are being attributed to students being detached from schools.
“Education has been so interrupted with students pulled out of classrooms, schools shut down, remote learning and forced quarantines,” said O’Scanlon. “It was a recipe for trouble from the start, and we’re seeing the results of it in schools across the state.
“Test-to-stay would herald a return to something closer to business as usual in classrooms and schools, and in the lives of students,” the Senator continued.
Today, the CDC joined O’Scanlon in endorsing test-to-stay, releasing two different studies that show the effectiveness of the strategy.
A story published today in The Washington Post stated: “Students who have been exposed to the coronavirus can safely continue in-person learning if they are regularly tested for the virus at school, avoiding disruptive at-home quarantines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.”
“Students perform better academically and emotionally when they have access to the positive dynamics of a structured classroom,” O’Scanlon said. “Test-to-stay will ensure more students can safely attend school every day, with no risk to themselves or their classmates. It is the responsible thing, the best thing we can do to bring balance back to the lives of students after two years of pandemic chaos.”