ISBE and IDPH now allow a strategy for close contacts to remain in school following exposure to COVID-19 through a Test to Stay protocol. Following an exposure occurring in the school setting that occur during the school day (excludes extracurricular activities), close contacts are permitted to remain in the classroom as long as close contacts are tested twice during the period between close contact notification/TTS enrollment and day 7 after exposure, with the last test occurring 5-7 days after last close contact from date of exposure with a NAAT (such as a PCR test) or rapid antigen test with emergency use authorization by the FDA and all results are negative.
Rapid antigen testing (e.g., BinaxNOW) may be most appropriate for Test to Stay given the short turnaround time for results. Testing must be conducted in school and, preferably, should be performed at the start of the school day before entering the classroom. When testing in the outlined cadence is not possible due to weekends and holidays, students and staff enrolled in TTS should be tested at the earliest possible opportunity.
Test to Stay may be used for both students and staff following any exposure occurring during the school day, excluding exposures during extracurricular activities. While engaged in Test to Stay after an exposure, students and staff who are not fully vaccinated or unboosted (if eligible) may participate in extracurricular activities during the testing period but may not participate in competitive play or performances during the testing period. After the five-day testing period has concluded, close contacts may fully participate in all aspects of the school day and extracurricular activities, including competitions and performances, as long as they remain consistently and correctly masked and physically distanced as much as possible for 10 days from exposure. Test to Stay participants should avoid social gatherings and remain at home when not at school functions for the full testing period and monitor for symptoms for 10 days, quarantining immediately if symptoms develop and seeking additional testing. Local health departments have the authority to assess high-risk exposures and recommend exclusion without the option of Test to Stay.
If at any time the student or staff person tests positive or becomes symptomatic, they should be immediately isolated and sent home, excluded from school, and the local health department notified. Even if the symptomatic TTS participant tests negative, they should be excluded from school and may not be reenrolled in TTS, which requires that participants remain asymptomatic. School personnel are responsible for monitoring and ensuring student and staff compliance with Test to Stay protocols.
Test to Stay should be deployed in addition to weekly screening testing as recommended by the CDC.
If the local health department issues an isolation or quarantine order that requires the individual to remain in isolation at home, the school must exclude the student as required by the isolation or quarantine order.
Updated on 1/12/22 per Revised Public Health Guidance for Schools (1/11/22)