Virus Outbreak Schools

In this March 18, 2021, file photo, science teacher Christopher Duggan squirts hand sanitizer on the hands of student Jaiden Taylor, left, at Windsor Locks High School in Windsor Locks, Conn. 

(The Center Square) – A new initiative rolled out by Connecticut's governor Thursday will allow students and staff who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to remain in school, in certain lower-risk situations.

In a news release, Gov. Ned Lamont rolled out the “Screen and Stay” initiative for those schools who choose to participate. In the program, those identified as a close contact to someone who tests positive for the coronavirus and are not fully vaccinated can remain in school if they wear a mask and don’t show any COVID-19 symptoms.

The new program provides relief from frequent and repeated quarantines that impact learning and places additional burdens on families, according to the release. The program will help districts keep students in the classroom through the fall.

“Throughout this pandemic, we’ve consistently done our best to maintain a safe learning environment for all students and staff, while also understanding that students achieve the greatest outcomes when they have access to in-person learning,” Lamont said in the release. “The recent approval of the COVID-19 vaccines for children between the ages of 5 and 11 marks an incredibly promising development in these ongoing efforts. While that rollout occurs, the Screen and Stay initiative will help ensure that more students can remain in school and we can provide a safe, in-person learning environment.”

According to the release, students and staff will be able to engage in the program if the close contact is during the school day, is indoors or on a school bus, and the contact and the individual who tested positive were masked during the exposure.

If the contact takes place outdoors, a person would become eligible regardless of masking but if they were under the supervision of staff and the close contact doesn’t show symptoms of the virus.

Examples of close contact scenarios that would not support the initiative include interscholastic and athletic activities, social interactions outside of school, contact where people are not wearing masks indoors properly and social distancing is not used, and contact between members of the same household.

Charlene M. Russell-Tucker, the state’s education commissioner, said the new initiative shows the commitment to in-person schooling, “where our students learn best.”

Associate Editor

Brent Addleman is an Associate Editor and a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He has served as editor of newspapers in Pennsylvania and Texas, and has also worked at newspapers in Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Kentucky.