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Sen. Schatz urges Hawaiʻi to stop interruptions of learning in K-12

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US Sen. Brian Schatz urges Hawaiʻi school officials to adopt CDC guidelines that allow students to stay in school if they are exposed to COVID-19. File photo. PC: state of Hawaiʻi, Office of the Governor.

US Sen. Brian Schatz called on the Hawai‘i Department of Education and the Hawai‘i Association of Independent Schools to adopt, as feasible, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “test-to-stay” guidance, which allows students to stay in school if they are exposed to COVID-19, reducing time away from school and stopping learning loss.

“With this new protocol, we can recoup thousands of days of learning,” Sen. Schatz said. “We have to be as aggressive as possible in preventing learning loss and giving every student an opportunity to learn as much as they can.”

In a letter to Hawai‘i Interim Superintendent Keith Hayashi and Hawaiʻi Association of Independent Schools Executive Director Philip Bossert, Sen. Schatz wrote: “Initial data from case studies show that schools with TTS [test-to-stay] policies have similar transmission rates as non-TTS schools.”

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The full text of the letter:

Dear Interim Superintendent Hayashi/Dr. Bossert:

I write to make you aware of new “test-to-stay” (TTS) guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for K-12 schools. I encourage the Hawai‘i Department of Education/ Hawaiʻi Association of Independent Schools to adopt TTS policies as appropriate and feasible, and to work with the Hawai‘i Department of Health in providing TTS guidance to complex areas and schools.

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TTS policies will allow students to stay in school even if they are exposed to COVID-19, thereby minimizing the number of days students would otherwise miss and helping to reduce the learning loss that can occur during traditional quarantine at home.

As the CDC notes, specific TTS policies may vary, but they follow the same principles: a combination of vaccination of eligible students and staff, frequent testing, contact tracing, masking inside schools, distancing between students, ventilation, handwashing and staying home when sick. Taken together, exposed students can remain in school in lieu of quarantining at home. Initial data from case studies show that schools with TTS policies have similar transmission rates as non-TTS schools.

The CDC’s science brief with the recent TTS updates can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/science-briefs/transmission_k_12_schools.html

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The CDC’s guidance on COVID-19 testing in schools can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/what-you-should-know.html

I appreciate your attention to this matter, and your collaboration during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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