Protect Your Health
Child Care Testing
Child care programs are a vital part of communities and provide safe, supportive environments that support development, provide access to important services, and improve outcomes for children. VDH is committed to providing guidance that ensures a safe and healthy environment for all students, teachers, and staff in child care centers.
COVID-19 Testing Support For Child Care Facilities
VDH is providing at-home rapid COVID-19 test kits to child care facilities through their local health districts. Tests can be used for diagnostic testing (to determine if someone has COVID-19 or not) of students age 2 and older, staff, and teachers who have symptoms of COVID-19 or are close contacts of someone with COVID-19.
How to use eMed-proctored BinaxNOW Antigen At Home Test Kits
More information about the test kits can be found below. For child care facilities interested in receiving test kits, please reach out to your local health district.
Test to Stay Option
Test to Stay (TTS) is a practice that allows close contacts of individuals with COVID-19 who are age 2 or older and not vaccinated or not up to date on COVID-19 vaccines to continue to attend their child care facility in-person during their quarantine period. TTS participants must have repeated negative COVID-19 tests, remain asymptomatic, and wear a mask.
To Remain In School or Child Care, Close Contacts Must:
Have Repeated Negative COVID-19 Tests
Wear a mask
Resources for Facilities to Implement Test to Stay
Test to Stay Resources for Participating Families
Frequently Asked Questions
- VDH Guide to eMed proctored BinaxNOW Antigen At Home Test Kits
- VDH/VDOE Parent Guide for at-home use of eMed proctored BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Test Kits>
- VDH informational session Video Recording and Slide deck (PDF) (18 pp, 667 KB)
NavicaNavica Account [Spanish] : The "create an account" option on the Navica website is available in Spanish. There is a toggle on the top near the toolbar to choose between English and Spanish.
Test to Stay (TTS) is a strategy that allows children aged 2 years and older and staff who are either not eligible for COVID-19 vaccines or not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines to remain in child care or at work. With TTS, close contacts who would normally stay at home during their quarantine period are allowed to attend child care as long as they remain asymptomatic, continue to test negative on repeated COVID-19 tests, and wear a mask at the child care facility. It is included as an option for eligible individuals in the VDH COVID-19 Child Care Facility Guidance.
Participating staff and students may benefit from COVID-19 testing and early identification of COVID-19, and will benefit from being able to continue to attend child care programs in-person.
In accordance with CDC guidance and COVID-19 Community Level Guidance, VDH recommends that all facilities consider implementing layered prevention strategies based on the COVID-19 Community Level, including vaccination of eligible individuals, masking of individuals 2 years of age or older, physical distancing and cohorting, ventilation, handwashing and respiratory hygiene, and cleaning and disinfecting. Programs that implement TTS should consider the potential additional risk of COVID-19 transmission introduced by allowing known close contacts to remain in the program when making decisions about the right combination of prevention strategies. In addition, VDH recommends child care facilities have adequate resources to conduct TTS, including a designated point of contact who will be responsible for managing testing information, is capable of providing guidance to families, and to whom questions can be referred.
No, this is a voluntary program. Only eligible staff members and children with a signed consent form can participate.
VDH recommends that Test to Stay be open to child care facility staff and children who are:
- 2 years of age or older
- An asymptomatic close contact of an individual with COVID-19 (including exposures occurring at the child care facility, in the community, and in the household)
- Not vaccinated or not up to date on COVID-19 vaccines
- Able to wear a mask at the child care facility for 10 days after the exposure (except when eating, drinking, and sleeping)
- Remain asymptomatic
- Have a signed consent form (by the parent/guardian, if 18 years old)
Yes, even individuals wearing masks are close contacts if they spend 15 minutes or more within 6 feet of someone with COVID-19. For further guidance, please see What to do if you were potentially exposed to coronavirus disease (COVID-19)? - Coronavirus (virginia.gov).
Children younger than 2 years old are not eligible to participate in Test to Stay because they are not recommended to wear masks and the eMed BinaxNOW test kits are not approved for use in this age group. Children under age 2 who are identified as close contacts of an individual with COVID-19 are recommended to quarantine at home for a full 10 days after the exposure.
Written consent should be provided by the individual (in the case of an adult teacher or staff member), or by the parent/guardian (in the case of a child). The participating individual or parent/guardian agrees to:
- Sign the consent form to participate in TTS.
- Conduct active monitoring for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 each day before and after child care program attendance.
- Immediately contact their child’s healthcare provider and child care facility if any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 develop.
- Stay home and do not attend the child care facility if any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 develop.
- Notify the child care facility of any new or additional close contact exposure to an individual with COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 that is identified while participating in Test to Stay.
- Promptly leave or pick up their child from the child care program, should they test positive or develop signs or symptoms of COVID-19 while at child care.
- Comply with public health recommendations for quarantine (i.e. stay home away from others) when not attending the child care facility during the 5 day testing period.
Details of the recommended testing protocol are available in the VDH Test to Stay Protocol for Child Care Facilities. Individuals participating in Test to Stay should take a COVID-19 rapid antigen test daily for 5 days after the last exposure to the individual with COVID-19 (Day 0). The rapid COVID-19 test may be taken in the morning before attending the child care facility or the evening prior, ideally after 7pm.
Tests are not necessary on weekends and holidays, but individuals enrolled in TTS should quarantine at home on weekends and holidays during the 5 day testing period.
The individual must have at least one negative rapid test on or after the 5th day before being released from TTS. If the first day back to child care following an extended break is 10 days or more after the exposure, the student does not need to be tested upon return to school provided that they have not experienced any symptoms.
A positive rapid test in a staff member or student exposed to COVID-19 during Test to Stay does not require confirmatory PCR testing as per CDC Guidance for Antigen Testing for SARS-CoV-2. Any staff member or student with a positive rapid test should isolate at home immediately and not attend child care.
Individuals who develop symptoms of COVID-19 should isolate themselves at home, regardless of a negative test result, and are no longer eligible to participate in Test to Stay. Duration of isolation will be dependent on testing and/or evaluation by a healthcare provider. Please see the VDH Algorithm for Evaluating a Child with COVID-19 Symptoms or Exposure for detailed guidance on evaluation, testing, and return to the child care facility.
If another close contact exposure to COVID-19 is discovered during the Test to Stay period, the participant’s Day 0 (last day of close contact exposure to the individual with COVID-19) would reset. The participant would need to restart either their at-home quarantine period or Test to Stay testing period. Please refer to the definition of close contact, and note that whether or not this is a new close contact exposure and requires a “reset” is impacted by the information below:
- People who are exposed to someone with COVID-19 starting from 2 days before they became sick (or 2 days before they tested positive if they never had symptoms) are considered close contacts, and
- People who are exposed to someone with COVID-19 after they completed at least 5 days of isolation are not considered close contacts.
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