Test to Stay COVID-19 School Testing Program

Last updated on February 22, 2022.

Available languages: Español 

Teacher wears a mask in classroom

Program Overview 

In its continuing efforts to keep students and staff in school, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is introducing a Test to Stay program. This new initiative is designed to increase in-person learning and allow students and staff with school-associated COVID-19 exposures a pathway out of quarantine. Enrollment in the program is optional for schools. 

With Test to Stay, those who have school-associated exposures to COVID-19 and would otherwise be required to quarantine can choose to continue in-person learning if they remain asymptomatic, participate in required testing, and wear a well-fitted mask for 10 days from exposure. A school or district may choose whether to include students who have a community-based, non-household exposure in their program. If an individual who would otherwise be required to quarantine chooses not to participate in testing, the individual would not be allowed to remain in school and would need to complete the normal five-day quarantine. All who wish to participate in Test to Stay will be provided with the testing tools and resources necessary to do so.

Test to Stay is a standalone program designed to help students and staff avoid quarantine. The School Screening Testing Program remains available to K-12 schools as well. Enrollment in the school screening testing program is not required to participate in Test to Stay. Additionally, other criteria for quarantine exemption outlined in Colorado’s Practical Guide for Operationalized CDC’s School Guidance continue to apply. 

In instances of a cluster of cases, an outbreak or evidence of ongoing transmission in schools: we encourage schools to use Test to Stay as a response strategy when increases in cases or absenteeism are identified and to avoid interruptions to in-person learning. Schools should work with their local public health agency to determine if Test to Stay should be used at the classroom, grade, or school level. Guidance on using Test to Stay in response to outbreaks, clusters of cases, or high transmission can be found in the Practical Guide for Operationalizing CDC’s School Guidance.

Please note: If at any point there is a concerning rise in secondary cases despite the implementation of Test to Stay, then quarantine, shifting to remote learning temporarily, and other mitigation strategies may be necessary to control transmission.

See map of enrolled schools

Program Details

Test to Stay is available to both students and staff in public, private, charter, and tribal schools in Colorado. Participating public and charter schools must notify their district superintendent of their intent to participate, but school district authorization is not required. Schools must complete a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) via a Google Form prior to launching Test to Stay. Students and staff must provide consent for the school to receive their personal health data. If a school wishes, they may attest upon enrollment in the Program that they already have this consent on file, or collect a new guardian/parental consent form for individuals under 18 years of age or a consent form for individuals older than 18 years of age.

 

How it works

  1. Students and staff exposed to COVID-19 will be able to attend school in lieu of quarantine if they remain asymptomatic and test negative twice: once as soon as they can after they are notified of an exposure, and then again five to seven days after the date of exposure. If their first test is negative, they may remain in school during the five to seven days before their second test. They should wear a well-fitting mask consistently and correctly in school for 10 days from the date of exposure.

  2. Students and staff can test themselves at home and report their results back to the school. CDPHE will provide all participating schools with access to the NAVICA™ app and reporting platform so that parents/guardians and staff may report test results safely and securely. 

  3. A student or staff member must begin isolation and seek diagnostic testing if symptoms occur or begin isolation if test results are positive.

  4. Students and staff participating in Test to Stay are required to wear a well-fitting mask properly, except when unmasking is allowed (e.g., while eating, drinking, etc.), for a full 10 days following their exposure to a positive case. They must also monitor for symptoms and seek diagnostic (PCR) testing if they develop symptoms.

Students and staff in Test to Stay must report their results to the school on the same day they test themselves. A negative test is required to attend school. Students and staff who test positive should stay home and follow isolation instructions

 

Reporting

Students, parents/guardians, and staff must promptly communicate test results to the school. Students, parent/guardians, and staff can securely and confidentially report results through the NAVICA™ app and reporting platform. Schools may use an existing reporting and tracking mechanism with prior written approval from CDPHE to support their Test to Stay implementation. Any reporting process must include reporting of all test results to public health authorities.

Schools are eligible for 1:1 implementation support from the Abbott NAVICA™ customer success team to set up their account, upload participant rosters, and begin communicating with students and staff about their results.

Checklist for schools   Instructions for families

Participating households will be provided with step-by-step instructions to set up and use the NAVICA™ app and platform. Results of the tests will be available to the individual testing within 15 minutes, and that result is then reported by the user through the NAVICA™ app. Results and the test date will be automatically reported to the individual’s school and can be shared on a smartphone via the phone screen. If a participant does not have access to the internet or a smartphone, this document is available to distribute to participating students to use for submission of results to the school and record-keeping purposes.

 

Enrollment

Each school will be able to opt in to the Test to Stay program via an enrollment form. Participating schools will be required to complete an MOU and attestation that they will agree to the following parameters:

  • Maintain participant consent on file, either via an existing on-file health consent form or via a new consent form, from all students and staff that will participate.

  • Notify district leadership of intent to participate in the program, if applicable.

  • Agree to receive and distribute testing materials to all participants who wish to participate in the program.

  • Agree to inform participants about the requirement to report all test results.

  • Agree to cooperate fully with CDPHE and local health departments. 

  • Report cases and notify close contacts in one working day, including secondary cases.

  • Report any issues to CDPHE and the local health department that arise with monitoring, reporting, and communications from school staff, students, and families.

  • Follow the practical guidelines for operationalizing school guidance. 

  • Should your enrollment be due to outbreak response strategies following an identified cluster of cases, an outbreak or after discussions with your local public health agency, please check the box on the enrollment form for expedited delivery (expected delivery within three to five business days).

 

Testing Supplies

Abbott BinaxNOW Over-the-Counter rapid antigen tests should be shipped to all schools that enroll in the program within approximately seven business days of successful enrollment. These tests are packaged as two tests in a kit, and include testing cards, small bottles of liquid reagent, nasal swabs, and instructions in both English and Spanish. The test requires a timer and  clean and level area to administer. Results are available in 15 minutes. CDPHE will provide these tests to schools at no charge. 

Schools may choose a small, medium, large, or extra large shipment to begin, and may reorder supplies at any time utilizing this form. Tests are boxed with six kits to a box and shipped in partial or full pallet options: small = 215 kits, medium = 430 kits, large = 860 kits (full pallet), and XL= 1720 kits (two full pallets).

 

Roles and Responsibilities

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)

CDPHE will be responsible for the program’s operations, implementation, and oversight, including providing necessary collateral and guidance resources needed to administer the program. CDPHE will ship tests at no cost to participating schools. CDPHE will provide support to participating schools and local public health agencies (LPHAs). CDPHE will collect and analyze data to measure the impact of the program and make recommended adjustments. 

Local Public Health Agency (LPHA)

Your local public health agency will be a supporting point of contact when communicating with participating school districts and schools. LPHAs will have access to all test results via the NAVICA™ app through ELR reporting. LPHAs should consider encouraging school districts and schools that have identified a cluster of cases, an outbreak, or evidence of increased transmission that will be implementing response strategies to slow transmission, to enroll in this program as soon as possible in order to get tests distributed and begin testing as quickly as possible.

School Districts/Schools

School superintendents must be made aware of a school’s intent to enroll in the program. 

  • An MOU and attestation via Google Form is required for each school. 

  • Schools will be responsible for disseminating program information, including testing materials, to all in their school community who wish to participate. 

  • Schools may provide Test to Stay supplies to respond to all student exposures, not only for exposures that occur at school or school-sponsored events. 

  • Schools must communicate that results reporting is required for program participation. 

  • Schools must agree to cooperate fully with public health requests for school-related cases and close contact determinations. 

  • Schools must have policies or procedures if a student becomes symptomatic while at school. 

  • Schools must ensure that adequate consent is kept on file for all participating students and staff.

For the most up-to-date epidemiology guidance for Test to Stay, please refer to the practical guide for operationalizing CDC’s school guidance. At the close of the program, participating schools will be expected to provide input, recommendations, and data to CDPHE for analysis.

Student/Parent/Staff

All students younger than the age of 18 must have a signed consent on file that has been deemed adequate by the school district/school for the sharing of test results with school personnel. A sample consent form is available for those younger than 18 years of age, as well as a consent form for those 18 years of age and older. Households that participate in Test to Stay must agree to test and report their test results to the school. They must also monitor symptoms daily, mask for a full 10 days following their exposure, and begin isolation if they test positive or develop symptoms.