FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 27, 2022
CONTACT: Hannah Kowitz
Senator Dunnavant Introduces Test-to-Stay Legislation
RICHMOND - Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico), a practicing physician, has introduced legislation and a budget amendment to implement test-to-stay guidelines and funding for Virginia’s public schools.
“We need to do everything we can to keep Virginia’s children in school five days a week,” said Dunnavant. “Too many of our children have faced learning loss and other issues because of school closures and virtual schooling. Virginia’s schools need our support to ensure that children can learn in the classroom while also limiting exposure to Covid-19 among students, faculty and staff. Implementing a test-to-stay policy with a funded testing protocol will make this a reality for every school in Virginia.”
SB431 directs the Board of Education and Department of Health to develop clear, consistent test-to-stay guidelines for staff and students, as well as best practices around quarantining with the shortest amount of time possible as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In addition to SB431, Senator Dunnavant has submitted a budget amendment which directs the remaining Epidemiology and Lab Capacity for School Testing (CDC) funds allocated to Virginia from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to be used to enter into a statewide contract for a Covid-19 Test-to-Stay in school program for any school division.
“Right now, we have outdated and confusing guidelines and protocols for schools,” Dunnavant continued. “These were established long before we knew what we know now about the spread of Covid-19 in school settings, and, importantly, how Covid-19 affects fully vaccinated adults and children. It’s time to get Virginia up to speed. This legislation will make sure Virginia’s guidelines are clear, consistent, achievable, and prioritize in-person learning.”
Test-to-stay studies have been conducted and found that the difference between schools that use test-to-stay versus schools with longer quarantine periods had little difference in Covid-19 transmission.
Los Angeles County studied the results of test-to-stay in 432 schools versus 1,635 schools which did not participate from August to October of 2021. According to CNN, “the researchers from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health found that among the schools that used test-to-stay, ‘Covid-19 incidence did not increase,’ compared with schools that did not implement the strategy.” And, in fact, researchers found that the average daily case rates declined among the test-to-stay schools.
A study in England used a control group of 76 schools and test-to-stay group of 86 schools over 10 weeks in the spring of 2021 and found little difference in Covid-19 related absences (1.62% for the control group and 1.24% for the testing group). Masks were not used in this study.