Utah school turns away students who did not participate in ‘Test to Stay’ COVID-19 testing
Online instruction offered to Kearns High School students who declined testing or whose parents could not be reached to give consent.
KEARNS — Students from some 20 Kearns High School families who did not undergo COVID-19 testing during the “Test to Stay” pilot conducted earlier this week were turned away from the school Wednesday morning, Granite School District officials confirmed.
The school, in conjunction with the Utah Department of Health and the Salt Lake County Health Department, tested 1,080 students and staff on Monday and Tuesday, about 70% of the student body. Eleven people tested positive and were instructed to isolate at home.
The school district notified families in advance by multiple emails, texts and telephone calls that students who declined testing or parents or guardians who could not be reached to ask for their consent for the pilot would not be admitted to the school starting Wednesday or until they could present a negative test result, said Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley.
There was “not a ton of pushback but obviously 20 families is pretty significant in terms of that many kids trying to show up today and go to school like it’s a regular day,” he said.
Families were referred to the Maverik Center for free rapid antigen testing and remote instruction is available for students until the start of winter break, Horsley said.
Student testing is available Monday, Wednesday and Friday, said Salt Lake County Health Department spokesman Nicholas Rupp. The rapid antigen testing is “exclusively for K through 12” and not the general population, he said.
Horsley said the pilot used the same secure database that holds testing data of Utah high school students who participate in state-sanctioned athletics or activities. Kearns High School administrators were able to run a report of students who underwent testing to verify their participation.
The pilot was one of the first in the state and nation. Davis School District’s Syracuse High School also participated, testing 68% of students, although more had initially indicated they would undergo the tests.
Testing at Syracuse High School revealed 19 positive tests, which was in addition to 27 people associated with the Davis District school who had tested positive for the virus within the past two weeks. State health officials recommend taking additional steps to curb transmission of the virus once there are 15 confirmed cases.
The school shifted to online learning starting Wednesday through Dec. 18. Winter break starts Dec. 21.
Rapid antigen tests were used at both schools. The tests can produce results within 15 minutes. The test requires a swab of a lower nostril, which is applied to a test card which can detect the presence of proteins found on or within the novel coronavirus.