Lawrence public schools to begin COVID testing program on Monday; aim is to keep more kids in school

Lawrence public schools on Monday will begin a new testing program to allow students who have been deemed a close contact of a COVID case to remain in school, if they pass daily tests for the virus.

The district on Saturday finalized plans to implement a “stay, learn, play and participate” testing program similar to the type of programs other districts in the county have been using since the beginning of the school year.

That program has staff at each school providing rapid antigen nasal swab tests each day to students who have been deemed a close contact. As long as those close contact students test negative and do not have any COVID symptoms, they can remain in school.

Such students will be required to test daily for the entire 10-day period that they would have been in quarantine otherwise. Students undergoing the testing program, however, won’t be allowed to ride the school bus, the district said in a informational flyer. Parents dropping off their children school also need to be prepared to stay until test results are complete, which could be up to 15 minutes, the district said.

The testing program comes as district officials have been dealing with several hundred students at any given time being out of school due to quarantine procedures related to COVID.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health in early August notified school districts that they could create such testing programs to keep children in school. Other districts in the county started programs, but Lawrence district leaders said the size of the Lawrence district made the logistics of a program more difficult to get started.


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