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COVID-19 'Test to Stay' implemented at Utah's first elementary schools

Posted at 10:25 PM, Sep 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 20:31:23-04

SYRACUSE, Utah — On Tuesday, all kids at one Davis School District elementary school will need to line up and get tested for COVID-19 in order to keep going to class in person.

That's because nearly 40 students and staff at Syracuse Elementary School have tested positive for COVID-19, surpassing the state-set threshold of 30 cases to implement Test to Stay.

While Test to Stay made an appearance at various Utah high schools last year, this marks one of the very first times the program is taking place in an elementary school.

In addition to Syracuse Elementary School, American Preparatory Academy's Draper 2 Charter School is also implementing Test to Stay this week after case counts surpassed the state's 30-case threshold.

READ: Mayor says SLC students 'healthier' due to school mask mandate; recommends extension

There's a first time for everything, and for 5-year-old Karstyn Winship, that recently meant his first time riding his bike without training wheels.

The Syracuse kindergartner zoomed down the sidewalk on his two-wheeled Hot Wheels bike Monday evening as mom Kelly Winship watched.

She said Karstyn just learned how to ride his bike, and was quite proud of it.

Karstyn is about to hit another first on Tuesday, based on an email Winship received from her son's school a couple days ago with a big announcement.

"They were just talking about the Test to Stay," she recounted of the email. "And I'm like, 'Test to Stay what?' You know, and then when they started talking about the positivity rate, then it kind of started to click because, I mean, honestly, that was the first I heard about it."

Karstyn has never had a COVID-19 test, Winship explained.

"Unfortunately we're the first elementary school, I believe in the state, who has had to do this. Not only first elementary school, but any school," said Davis School District spokesperson Chris Williams.

He described how students in the school will undergo a rapid PCR test, but only if a parent signs off on the test.

Any parent who opts out of the testing, Williams explained, will either need to present an independent test from outside the school or their child won't be able to go to class.

"Then their child will be treated like someone who has COVID, and they're going to be sent home," he said.

That child would then need to quarantine for 10 days before returning.

Williams talked about how school nurses will be handling all the tests, and they hope to get them all knocked out in one day.

"We're going to do everything we can to make it as calm a situation as possible," Williams said. "We're talking kindergarteners, first graders who have never had this maybe before."

He said that the Davis School District is allowing parents to be present for their elementary school student's test.

Winship has questions on how the testing will go Tuesday.

"I'm curious to see how they're going to get 1,500 kids — within a seven-hour span — in and out of a library," she said.

She planned to call the school in the morning, and at the very least, wanted to be there for Karstyn's very first COVID-19 test.

"In case he does get scared or whatnot," Winship said. "They said it's a simple nose swab, but, you know, still."

The Davis School District sent a letter to all parents, explaining the potential for Test to Stay in other schools and telling parents they must give consent for their child to be tested. They urged parents to sign off sooner rather than later.

Syracuse High looks like it could be next on the list with 31 cases. West Point Junior High, Layton High, and Clearfield High are all sitting around two dozen cases and creeping close to the threshold.

Click here to see the latest COVID-19 case counts in Utah schools.