Posted on November 11, 2021 in binx blog

How "Test to Stay" Programs can Help Students

November 11, 2021

What is it?

Test to Stay is a relatively new approach to testing that enables a student’s active enrollment for in-person learning. Students are required to test regularly, whether it be on a day-to-day or weekly basis, and only those testing positive will be required to school remotely until they are well enough to return to class. The program seeks to minimize the number of students forced to quarantine and prioritizes a confirmation of symptoms through both antigen and PCR testing.

A Case Study from the CDC: Utah

Test to stay has been implemented in several school districts across the United States and has found favorable results in participating districts. The state of Utah implemented a Test to Stay program during the 2020-21 school year which tested approximately 60,000 students. During the length of the program, only 3.2% of students involved in the program tested positive, according to the CDC.

Test to Play, a similar approach to Test to Stay, was run for students looking to get involved in extracurricular activities. After school activities, like sports, where testing was performed more regularly for athletes; 95% of high school extracurricular events were able to run because of this augmented testing approach. This innovative approach to COVID-19 testing was likely a contributor to mitigating the spread of COVID-19 among their communities.

How Does Testing Help?

The CDC asserts that testing cannot replace the vital role of masking, social distancing, and isolating at the first sign of symptoms. On average, regular testing provides the added benefit of allowing students to remain in the classroom, making in-person learning a reality (CDC). In Utah, an estimated 109,752 in-person instruction days were saved for the entire student population due to high testing volume (CDC). Testing helps address the root of an outbreak before the virus spreads rapidly. This provides a beneficial learning environment and works to support aspects of education that have been lacking in remote instruction, such as mental, emotional, and social development in the classroom.

Drawbacks of Test to Stay

As with any approach to testing, some challenges limit the accessibility of testing in the classroom. One of the most obvious drawbacks is that testing can be expensive. It is important to make sure you are evaluating different COVID-19 test offerings to understand what capabilities are the best fit for your program and budget.

Antigen testing, while a reliable and cost-effective form of testing, can produce false negatives or false positives on occasion. Supplemental PCR testing can confirm negative results with greater accuracy and having both test options available is an important aspect of a successful testing program.

Implementing a Test to Stay program can also prove to be a logistical hassle; from finding a test vendor, implementing a schedule for testing, and drawing up plans for any possibility during the testing process. Having a roadmap for what to do when a student tests positive and understanding what to do if students are not able to test are all scenarios that districts must be prepared for. Having a vendor in place that provides support for school districts in setting up a streamlined testing approach tailored to each district’s individual needs is a vital piece of implementing a successful program.

Understanding and managing the data can be burdensome. School districts need to find methods to track student results to not only ensure that the proper students are being isolated but also to determine how well the Test to Stay program has been implemented to make changes accordingly.

Parental consent must be granted to run a testing program with students under eighteen years of age. Most schools, workplaces, and universities typically subject those unwilling to test with more stringent social distancing, masking, and isolating standards.

How binx can Help Implement Test to Stay Programs

If your school is implementing a Test to Stay program, we have the tools you need to fully plan, implement and launch a successful program. Our end-to-end digital platform used with our COVID-19 test offerings, provides all of the necessary tools to track, trace and manage test results.

COVID-19 Test Solutions

binx can provide access to rapid antigen kits for results in 15 minutes. Any positives can be followed up with a highly reliable PCR test. On average, a supplementary PCR test reduces the number of students in isolation, confirms asymptomatic cases, and provides an additional layer of security to a Test to Stay program.

Pooled PCR testing is a cost-effective approach for testing high volumes of students at a low cost. This method of testing combines up to 10 student samples into a tube to be processed by the laboratory as a single PCR test. This means you can receive PCR-quality test results at a low cost per person as part of a testing program. Individual PCR testing or rapid antigen tests should be used as a confirmatory option for groups that receive a positive pooled result.

binx health provides sample collection for PCR anterior nasal swab collection, this is the gold standard for COVID-19 testing. PCR tests can support those looking to augment their testing accuracy and capabilities at schools to ensure that students are healthy. This is a reliable option as a standalone test or can be done in conjunction with Rapid Antigen and Pooled Testing methods as a confirmatory test. PCR testing can be performed entirely at schools when the need arises so that parents do not need to find testing sites.

Data Management

Beyond multiple testing options, binx health also provides partner schools with a sophisticated data management program that tracks results, student participation, and how individual cases of positive-testing individuals are being handled. With binx health, schools can easily develop a Test to Stay program and worry less about implementation. Our digital platform gives school administrators an easy way to track, trace and manage all of the test data that will provide insights on outbreaks within their communities and classrooms.

Reach out for a free COVID-19 consultation, and we can help you develop a program that fits your school’s needs.