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Beaverton schools pause Test-to-Stay program due to staff shortages

The district also announced that it will make changes to its safety protocols this week due to the high number of COVID cases in Washington County.
Credit: KGW

BEAVERTON, Ore. — The Beaverton School District has paused its Test-to-Stay program for at least the next two weeks due to staff shortages caused by COVID-19 absences.

The program, which is based on a state protocol, allows unvaccinated students who were exposed to a COVID-positive case at school to continue attending in-person rather than quarantining at home if they immediately test negative and show no symptoms. They must also be re-tested at school after 5-7 days.

In a letter to parents on Wednesday, Public Communications Officer Shellie Bailey-Shah said that due to COVID-related absences, the district currently does not have enough nurses or health assistance to run the program and has been unable to find qualified new hires to fill the vacancies.

The district hopes to restart the program on Jan. 24 "if staffing allows," she wrote.

RELATED: As omicron spreads, Portland Public Schools reverts back to COVID safety protocols for extracurricular activities

Beaverton schools will continue to offer COVID-19 testing at schools and the district office for students and staff who develop symptoms, Bailey-Shah said, and will continue its Test-to-Shorten-Quarantine and Test-to-Return programs.

The Test-to-Shorten-Quarantine program applies to unvaccinated students who were exposed to a COVID-positive case outside of the school day, such as at a sports practice, community event or at home.

In those cases, the student must quarantine at home for 10 days, but they can shorten the quarantine period to seven days if they show no symptoms during those seven days and test negative on day five, day six or day seven.

RELATED: Masks, testing and vaccination will all be key to keeping schools open during omicron, state officials say

The Test-to-Return program is for students who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of their vaccination status. Those students are required to quarantine at home for 10 days, but they may return sooner if they test negative for COVID, the symptoms have abated and they have not had close contact with a positive case of COVID-19.

Bailey-Shah's letter added that due to the current record-high case count in Washington County, additional changes to the district's safety protocols would be announced "in the coming days," once the district has had time to evaluate the changes and coordinate with other metro-area districts.

Oregon is experiencing a surge of COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant, with multiple record-breaking single-day counts in the past week. 

Washington County's numbers have been surging as well; on Monday the county reported roughly 2,100 cases from the weekend, compared with 540 cases reported the previous weekend, which was already more than the county had seen in any weekend since the peak of the delta wave in early September.

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