CDC advises that schools may consider the use of TTS to minimize the impact of quarantine and limit school absences after a SARS-CoV-2 exposure in the K-12 school setting.
VDH recognizes the importance of in-person learning for the academic, social and behavioral health of our children and adolescents. VDH is committed to providing guidance that ensures a safe and healthy environment for all students, teachers, and staff in K-12 schools.
Please see below links for summary of VDH guidance on the implementation of Test to Stay programs in Virginia schools.
For School Officials:
TTS is a resource-intensive effort that will require planning and commitment at the local school level to be successful. VDH will provide test kits to participating schools, protocol and guidance, and technical assistance..
VDH encourages schools to review the protocol, webinar, and implementation checklist to assess for readiness in implementing Test to Stay. Please visit this page regularly to remain up to date on program developments and resources.
Please note that all guidance is subject to change pending any updated CDC or VDH Guidance.
Introduction to TTS, including key definitions, and recommended testing and quarantine response protocols
(PDF) (14 pp, 240 KB)
One page overview of the TTS program
(PDF) (1 pp, 73 KB)
VDH/VDOE Test to Stay Educational Webinar
A VDH/VDOE Test to Stay Educational Webinar for School Officials is available to review as a PDF
(PDF) (32 pp, 1595 KB)
Resources to Help Schools Implement Test to Stay
These are resources schools may use to help implement Test to Stay. Schools should not return these documents to VDH.
Includes eligibility criteria for student enrollment, continued participation in in-person instruction, and release from TTS
(PDF) (3 pp, 60 KB)
Daily Monitoring Form
To collect data on individual test results, symptoms, and exposure dates
(PDF) (1 pp, 52 KB)
Detailed checklist for schools to review to ensure adequate staffing, resources, and processes to implement Test to Stay
(PDF) (2 pp, 55 KB)
Data Collection Worksheet
(PDF) (2 pp, 53 KB)
Resources for Parents, Teachers, and Staff
Page Last Updated: May 24, 2022
Data on Test to Stay in Virginia K-12 Schools (Updated 3/30/2022)
Total number of K-12 schools/school divisions actively distributing test kits:
- 40 school divisions
- 4 private schools
- 1 independent public school
Total number of schools/school divisions participating in testing programs (ViSSTA and TTS):
- 25 public school divisions
- 2 private schools
- 1 independent public school
Participating schools/school divisions shown on map
Total number of COVID-19 tests distributed to K-12 schools for TTS:
No, this is a voluntary program. Only eligible individuals with a signed consent form can participate
VDH recommends that Test to Stay be open to individuals who:
- Are not up to date on vaccines against COVID-19
- Are identified as an asymptomatic close contact (the exposure may be masked or unmasked, at school, a school-sponsored event, school bus, or in the community or in the household)
- Remain asymptomatic
- Teachers/staff must sign a Test to Stay consent form
- Students must have a Test to Stay consent form signed by a parent or guardian
Yes, schools may expand participation to eligible teachers and staff. Schools should consider whether or not their current inventory of test kits can support testing all eligible students before expanding to teachers and staff.
Individuals who are up to date on vaccines for COVID-19 are not eligible to participate in Test to Stay because they are exempt from quarantine. For the purposes of quarantine, VDH defines people up to date on COVID-19 vaccines as 1) those ages 18 years and older who have received all recommended vaccine doses, including boosters and additional primary shots for some immunocompromised people, and 2) people ages 5–17 years who have completed the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines.
Individuals who have had COVID-19 in the past 3 months are not eligible to participate in Test to Stay because they are exempt from quarantine.
No, there are no costs or insurance requirements for individuals to participate in Test to Stay. Test kits are provided to participating individuals free of charge.
Parents/guardians should do the following in order for their child to participate in Test to Stay:
- Sign the consent form to participate in Test to Stay.
- Explicitly ask your student about signs and symptoms of COVID-19 each day before and after school.
- Immediately contact the student’s healthcare provider and school if any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 develop.
- Do not send the student to school if any signs or symptoms develop in the child or anyone in the home.
- Promptly pick up the student from school if they test positive or develop signs or symptoms of COVID-19 while at school.
- Comply with public health recommendations for quarantine when not attending in-school instruction. (i.e. Stay home away from others when not in school for instruction)
VDH recommends that all schools consider implementing layered prevention strategies including vaccination. Schools that implement Test to Stay should consider the potential additional risk of COVID-19 transmission introduced by allowing known close contacts to remain in school when making decisions about the right combination of prevention strategies. In addition, VDH recommends that schools have the following:
- Adequate resources to conduct TTS; including a designated school point of contact who will be responsible for managing testing data, is capable of providing guidance to students and parents, and to whom questions can be referred.
- Adequate resources to track and report information to the health department as requested.
If an individual has a negative rapid test that morning or the evening prior, is asymptomatic, and is able to wear a mask, they may ride the school bus to school. If the individual is being tested at school in the morning, they should ideally not ride the bus until they have a negative rapid test. If necessary, schools may consider allowing individuals who will test in the morning at school to ride the bus.
While participating in Test to Stay, individuals are recommended to quarantine from all non-school related activities and should not participate in sports practice and competitions until they have completed the 5-day testing regimen. Once the 5 day testing period for Test to Stay is complete, individuals can participate in sports as long as they can adhere to mask usage on days 6–10, including during play. If mask use is not possible, participating in sports should be delayed until after Day 10.
Individuals may participate in school-based extracurricular activities as long as they remain masked and physically distanced (>3 feet) for the full testing period.
Close contact team sports and indoor sports are associated with higher risk for COVID-19 transmission. Extracurricular activities in which an individual remains masked and physically distanced (>3 feet) for the full testing period posesa much lower risk for COVID-19 transmission. For this reason, the safest option is for individuals who have had an exposure to COVID-19 to refrain from high risk activities like sports until they complete the 5 day testing period for Test to Stay.
Once the 5 day testing period for Test to Stay is complete, individuals can participate in sports as long as they can adhere to mask usage on Days 6–10, including during play. If mask use is not possible, participating in sports should be delayed until after Day 10. Schools and families should be aware that team sports or other extracurricular activities, especially indoor activities involving shouting or singing, increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
VDH recommends that schools use the eMed-proctored Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen At Home Test Kit. eMed will provide on-demand telehealth sessions to proctor testing, eliminating the need for schools to independently comply with other requirements that typically accompany on-site antigen testing, such as the need for a prescriber or CLIA waiver.
Individuals should take a test either in the morning before going to work in the school or starting in-person instruction, or the evening before (ideally after 7pm). The test must be negative to attend school. When using the eMed Abbott BinaxNOW Antigen At Home Test Kit, the proctor is the online eMed Certified Guide, who has received a rigorous training and testing certification.
If the school has the resources to perform testing at school, rapid testing using the eMed proctored Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen At Home Test Kit may be performed upon arrival at the school.
Participating schools will be responsible for distributing the testing kits. VDH recommends that schools consider assigning a COVID-19 Testing Coordinator to oversee the distribution of tests to teachers/staff, students and/or parents/guardians.
An individual with a positive COVID-19 test must isolate at home for 5 days after symptom onset or date of positive test, after which if the individual has no fever for at least 24 hours and symptoms are resolving, they may return to school with mask use for the next 5 days. Please refer to the VDH guidance on isolation on the What to do if you have confirmed or suspected coronavirus disease (COVID-19)? Webpage.
A positive rapid test in an individual in Test to Stay does not require confirmatory PCR testing as per CDC Guidance for Antigen Testing for SARS-CoV-2. Any individual with a positive rapid test should isolate at home immediately.
No. Any individual who develops symptoms must isolate at home, even if they have a negative test. They are not eligible to continue to participate in Test to Stay. Please see the VDH Algorithm for Evaluating a Child with COVID-19 Symptoms or Exposure for further details.
The CDC advises that close contacts of an individual with COVID-19 wait until quarantine has ended to get a COVID-19 vaccine. This is to 1) decrease the risk of spreading COVID-19 to others, 2) avoid confusion between vaccine side effects and COVID-19 symptoms, and 3) because vaccination is not expected to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection after an exposure. Individuals are encouraged to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they complete their quarantine.
After the test taker completes their test with the online proctor, eMed will report positive test results to VDH. Individuals taking tests should also report any positive results to their respective school leadership so that follow up actions can be initiated promptly.
VDH encourages schools to develop a secure mechanism for receiving results from at-home proctored tests. An alternative option is for schools to obtain teacher/staff member or parental attestation of the test results before the individual may proceed with in-person instruction at school.
Individuals participating in Test to Stay do not need to test on Day 5 if it falls on a weekend or holiday, however, they must obtain a negative rapid test on the morning of the next school day (even if this falls on Day 6, 7, or beyond), or the evening prior. The individual must have at least one negative rapid test on or after Day 5 before being released from Test to Stay.
No. Individuals who have had close contact with a person who was a close contact to someone with COVID-19 (“contact of a contact”) are not required to quarantine and are not eligible for Test to Stay. If the close contact tests positive for COVID-19, then the other individuals should follow Test to Stay and/or quarantine protocols.
The Virginia School Screening Testing for Assurance program, or ViSSTA, is a free COVID-19 screening testing program for Virginia public and private K-12 students, teachers, and staff. In screening testing, individuals without known symptoms or exposure to COVID-19 are tested to identify unknown cases. In Test to Stay, asymptomatic individuals who have a known COVID-19 exposure are tested daily for 5 days after the exposure instead of quarantining at home, and may remain in school if the tests are negative.
No. ViSSTA screening testing excludes individuals with known symptoms or exposure to COVID-19. Since all individuals participating in Test to Stay have a known COVID-19 exposure (they are a close contact), they should not participate in ViSSTA screening testing. Once the individual has completed the Test to Stay testing period, they may begin participating in ViSSTA screening testing again. They may rejoin screening testing on Day 6 after exposure (after completing the Test to Stay 5 day testing period).
Yes. Any staff hired using ViSSTA funds are able to assist with Test to Stay programs.
Opens pdf to download
Opens file to download
Opens in a new window