Vale School District and Elementary School

A rock outside Vale Elementary School and the Vale School District Office, is pictured in October of 2020. Once information is available from the state, Vale School District plans to implement COVID-19 test-to-stay protocol. A check with other local schools shows that Adrian and Nyssa school districts will, too. The newspaper is waiting for a response from Ontario School District.

MALHEUR COUNTY — On Nov. 24, the Oregon Health Authority in conjunction with the Oregon Education Department announced the creation of the test-to-stay protocol, which will allow students to attend school in-person and extracurricular activities as long as they test negative for COVID-19.

ODE Director Colt Gill said the move was “part of a layered set of protocols in schools will keep students and educators in classrooms, maximizing days spent in school learning, growing and thriving.”

The Argus contacted local school districts in Malheur County to see whether they would be applying the test-to-stay protocol in their respective districts. Those who responded indicated they would be rolling it out in some way.

Adrian School District will be implementing the protocols, Interim Superintendent Raeshelle Meyer said in an email.

For the Nyssa School District, Superintendent Darren S. Johnson responded by email, saying “We are planning to participate in the ‘Test to Stay’ protocol as soon as we have the materials from the state in order to participate fully.”

The district is committed to keeping students in class, he said.

“Anything we can do to keep kids safe and in school is what we [the district] will explore for our community,” he said.

Vale School District Superintendent Alisha McBride said in an e-mail that the district will offer the test-to-stay protocol “as an option for students to continue to engage in in-person instruction and activities, when allowable.”

The Ontario School District is working on getting a response to the newspaper, which was not available in time for today’s print deadline. The newspaper will provide further information when that is made available.

How it works

Information follows on how the test to stay protocol works.

Test to stay is available only for unvaccinated asymptomatic individuals who were exposed in indoor and outdoor school settings where universal masking is fully in place. Indoors and outdoor exposures are reviewed for proximity and duration of exposure. Test to stay may not be used following extracurricular exposures because masking in these settings is optional and the risk of transmission within the cohort is greater. Similarly, test to stay may not be used following community or in-home exposures.

• Test to stay allows unvaccinated individuals to be tested twice during the seven days following exposure. First, as soon as the exposure has been identified, with a second test occurring between days five-seven following the exposure.

• Test to stay is a form of modified quarantine, which allows individuals to attend school during their seven-day quarantine period. However, individuals participating in test to stay are expected to maintain quarantine outside of classroom settings. Students and staff participating in test to stay may participate in school-related extracurricular activities during their seven-day quarantine period but must wear face coverings at all times during these activities.

The protocol is an option available to all Oregon schools to administer. Tests are offered at no cost to participants. Student participation requires the permission of a parent or guardian.

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