Syracuse Elementary School activating 'Test to Stay' protocol after COVID-19 outbreak

Heidi Diedker, a registered nurse with the Davis School District, times several COVID-19 tests from Woods Cross High School student-athletes at the school in Woods Cross on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. Syracuse Elementary School will conduct a "test to stay” event on Tuesday after more than 30 students and staff were diagnosed with COVID-19, according to a letter to parents. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)



SYRACUSE — Syracuse Elementary School will conduct a Test to Stay event on Tuesday after more than 30 students and staff were diagnosed with COVID-19, according to a letter to parents.

The Davis School District's COVID-19 dashboard indicates 39 active cases at the school, which serves 957 students.

Class was conducted as usual on Monday, but parents were sent the letter notifying them that the number of cases had triggered the Test to Stay protocol outlined in HB1007, passed in a special session of the Utah Legislature.

Testing of students and staff will be conducted in the school library by school nurses. Parents must give their consent to their child's testing, which will be a simple nasal swab just beyond the nostril opening.

Students who test negative can return to school.

If a child tests positive, they "will be discreetly placed in an isolation room and parents will be contacted to take their child home," the letter states.

Children who are not tested will be instructed to quarantine until Sept. 24. However, they can return to school if they receive a negative COVID-19 test.

"We assume most students will be tested during school. Because of that, their teacher will take the class to the library to be tested. If you'd like to be present, testing will also be available an hour before school begins and until 5 p.m.," the letter to parents states.

Davis School District spokesman Christopher Williams said Syracuse Elementary is the first Davis District school to conduct Test to Stay. It appears to be one of the first in the state to reach the Test to Stay threshold.

The school district's COVID-19 dashboard also shows 31 cases at Syracuse High School, which has an enrollment of 2,589 students.

In August, Utah's State Epidemiologist Leisha Nolen told the Utah State Board of Education that math models had predicted significant increases in COVID-19 cases this fall.

"We expect by October these numbers to possibly go up quite significantly. So we think there will be quite a few cases in the K-through-12 age group," Nolen said.

Most elementary school-age children are not currently eligible for vaccination. Utah health authorities recommend wearing masks in schools, but it is not required under state law. Some school districts have required mask wearing under local health or emergency orders.

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Marjorie Cortez

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