What is Test to Stay?
Test to Stay is an option K-12 schools and Childcare Centers can use during a COVID-19 outbreak to avoid quarantine and keep students in the classroom after exposure to someone infected with COVID-19. In-person instruction gives students the best learning opportunity. Test to Stay is based on schools and/or parents using rapid test kits to test students and staff.
While Test to Stay is a helpful tool, it is not a substitute for vaccination of eligible students and staff, wearing masks or physical distancing.
Under Test to Stay, if a student or staff member not up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations is determined to have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 during an outbreak, they would not quarantine at home but could continue attending school as long as they do not have symptoms, agree (for a child, their parents agree) to be tested and must wear a mask for 10 days. The individual must be tested within five to seven days after the close contact and if they test negative, they can remain in school. If possible, the individual is recommended to test again 24-48 hours after their first negative test. If they test positive, they must isolate at home. The tests could be performed by appropriate school staff or by parents at home using rapid tests. Many schools already have rapid tests they can administer at school and DHEC also is making at-home tests available to school districts that schools can send home to parents for their use.
No. This is a district decision. However, Test to Stay is an effective way to reduce days out of the classroom while reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to protect the health of students, teachers, and staff. DHEC strongly recommends South Carolina school districts implement Test to Stay as one of the ways to help keep students in the classroom and not lose time due to quarantine during a COVID-19 outbreak. Many schools already have rapid tests they can administer at school and DHEC is also making at-home tests available to school districts that schools can send home to parents for their use.
This is left to the discretion of school officials. However, DHEC recommends schools accept results from rapid tests performed by parents at home, which parents should provide on a school-authorized attestation form (sample); Parents may use any rapid at-home test that has received emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Call your school or district administrators and express your interest in having Test to Stay implemented in your school or district. Express to them that you understand the need to limit spread but that you also desire to have your student learning in-person to get the best possible opportunity to learn at a quality level. Explain that Test to Stay provides a largely safe option that is recommended by DHEC.
Yes. The district must ensure the parent or guardian consented to testing the student.
No. A student up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations doesn’t have to quarantine if they are a close contact during an outbreak. The student must wear a mask for 10 days, is recommended to get tested five days after the last contact with the person who has COVID, and watch for symptoms.
Yes. 1) Anyone who is exposed but recently had COVID-19 within the last 90 days (positive PCR or antigen test) can stay in school, but they must wear a mask for 10 days, and monitor for symptoms. 2) If a student is exposed but up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations, they can stay in school but must wear a mask for 10 days, is recommended to be tested five days after the last contact with the person with COVID and watch for symptoms. DHEC's COVID-19 Exposure Guidance for School Use graphic is a tool for determine when quarantine is recommended during an outbreak.
Many school districts already have rapid tests they can provide to schools. Rapid tests are also available at no cost at many public health departments and through the Federal Government. Tests are also available for purchase at many pharmacies and retail stores. DHEC recommends that schools accept any rapid test that has an emergency use authorization from the FDA.
DHEC News Releases
In order from newest to oldest.
- DHEC Expands Test to Stay Recommendation to Include Childcare Facilities, Updates K-12 COVID-19 Guidance
- DHEC's Test to Stay Program Keeps More Students in School; State Health Officials Encourage Schools to Implement
- DHEC Updates COVID-19 School Guidance, Supports CDC Recommendation for Moderna Boosters After 5 Months
- DHEC Statement about CDC's MMWR Reports Evaluating the Effectiveness of Test to Stay Strategy for K-12 Students
- Learn more about DHEC's COVID-19 Rapid Testing for South Carolina Public Schools program that began in December 2020.
- Order Free At-Home Tests from the Federal Government
- Attestation Form for At-Home COVID-19 Test (sample)