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The Test to Stay program aims at keeping Canby students in classrooms as the omicron virus spreads.

As students return to school from winter break, and as Oregonians see a sharp rise in positive COVID-19 cases, the Canby School District is offering a Test to Stay program for kids to remain in classrooms if they are exposed to the virus.

The Test to Stay program was introduced in December 2021, just before winter break. For those who opt in, the program allows unvaccinated children and staff who have been exposed at school to take a test after exposure, reducing quarantine times for asymptomatic individuals.

COURTESY PHOTO: CSD - A look at what the Canby School District has in place for COVID-19 exposure and testing.

Participants in this modified quarantine must test twice -- once immediately after notification of an exposure, and once five to seven days later. Students and staff with a negative test and no symptoms during the modified quarantine period are allowed to remain at school.

Those exposed to COVID-19 outside the school setting must quarantine at home but can provide a negative test -- from an approved testing center -- taken five to seven days after exposure and return to school on day eight.

Parents must consent to the program to allow schools to test children. Consent forms can be found on the school district's website.

Vaccinated students and staff currently do not have to test or quarantine if they do not show any symptoms after an exposure if proof of vaccination is provided to the school.

On Jan. 3, The Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education recommended that schools and other organizations should pause any extracurricular activities through January and February as COVID-19 cases are expected to continue to rise.

"If schools and other organizations proceed with extracurricular activities, especially as these activities move indoors and individuals are unmasked, they should expect rapid transmission of COVID-19 that will prevent students from participating in in-person learning due to isolation for those that contract COVID-19 and lengthy quarantines for those that come into close contact with infected individuals," the OHA wrote in a health advisory message. "This risk should be clearly communicated to families participating in these extracurricular activities."

Canby School District is not planning to pause cocurricular activities, according to the district's Director of Communications, Kristen Wohlers. Instead, schools will continue to implement layered mitigation strategies, like masking and distancing, that are currently in place. This is in line with other area districts, Wohlers said.

Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reduced quarantine length to five days, the school district is waiting on guidance from OHA, ODE and Clackamas County Public Health on what this will mean for school.

Wohlers said most COVID-19 exposures are happening outside of schools right now, but she expects more students and staff will be taking advantage of Test to Stay in the coming weeks.

In Clackamas County, 27.7% of kids aged five to 11 years old and 68.4% of kids aged 12 to 17 years old have been fully vaccinated. In the last week, Clackamas County has reported an average 434 daily new cases, according to OHA.

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