Student mask mandate extended; testing programs set for December

Betsy Price Headlines, Health

The state Division of Public Health will start a testing program designed to keep kids who were exposed to COVID to stay in school.

Students and student athletes who play indoor sports will need to continue to mask up through February 2022, according to the state Division of Public Health.

The Delaware Interscholastic Athletics Association said in notes from its November meeting that Public Health had cited rising numbers of adult and pediatric COVID-19 cases for the extension of the rule.

Two weeks ago, the rate of COVID-19 cases increased by 16%, with the highest rates among children ages 5 to 17, DPH said in a press release. Officials there blamed Halloween parties.

Public Health hopes an increase in the vaccination rate among 5- to 11-year-old and 12- to 17-year-old youth will help lower the daily number of cases again.

Masking is meant to help make sure students can stay in school and to avoid having to switch to virtual classes again.

Some schools in Delaware have been operationally closed due to COVID-19 cases that originated close contact exposures, the DIAA newsletter said.

Public Health will launch a new program, Test To Stay, in December that’s designed to keep kids in school.

The program limits absenteeism by allowing students who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 while in school, to remain in school as they continue to test negative daily.

Opportunities to expand testing so that students may also remain in weekend athletic and extracurricular activities is being discussed, the DIAA newsletter said.

Schools and districts can enroll and learn more about the program by visiting www.dhsscovidschooltest.com

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