RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – The state is rolling out new quarantine guidelines for a select group of school districts. Cabot, Russellville, Springdale, and Bentonville are the pilot districts for the Test to Stay Program.
More students are filling the halls of Russellville Junior High after the district rolled out their new COVID-19 quarantine guidelines.
“We were just excited,” Interim Superintendent Andrew Vining said.
Vining said since the beginning of the school year, they’ve quarantined more than 800 kids. Only 14 of those have become COVID positive.
“That’s a lot of students that are not in school that have not become sick,” Vining said.
The district is now one of four schools piloting the Test to Stay Program. The way it works is unvaccinated students, who are identified as close contacts, now have the option to be tested on day one, three and five of their quarantine period.
“We started testing kids at 8:00 in the morning and if they test negative, they go to school,” Russellville School District Assistant Superintendent Dr. Brittany Turner said.
Dr. Turner said she’s seen the impact quarantines can have not just as an administrator but as a parent.
“If they’re sick or if they’re quarantined, I’m home with them, so if they’re not sick and they can come to school it sure makes my life a lot easier,” Dr. Turner said.
Not only will the students be tested periodically, but nurse coordinator and district point of contact Annie Schanink also says the students will be monitored for any signs of COVID-19.
“We will ensure that they don’t have any symptoms, they will check in with the nurse periodically and they will be asked, required actually to wear their mask during the quarantine time,” Schanink said.
Parents and district leaders say they hope to see lower numbers of quarantines while keeping their COVID positive numbers low as well.
“It’s all about keeping the kids in school, keeping them healthy and keeping them safe,” Schanink said.
Parents will have to give their written consent for their child to test to stay. The pilot program lasts two weeks. From there state and health officials will decide whether or not to roll it out to other districts.