Box Elder County Commissioners to consider scrapping COVID-19 test-to-stay plan for schools

Nov 4, 2021, 7:48 PM | Updated: Nov 5, 2021, 7:25 am

BOX ELDER COUNTY, Utah — Box Elder County leaders could soon scrap a test-to-stay plan created just for the county’s schools.

A big part of the decision hinges on how many children ages 5-12 get vaccinated against COVID-19.

County commissioners initially voted to keep the test-to-stay plan, because transmission rates per-capita here were higher than other parts of the state.

Box Elder County has its own test-to-stay protocol for elementary schools because their schools are much smaller than many across the state.

So far, that protocol has been working, according to Bear River Health Department epidemiologist Caleb Harrison.

“The benefit has been that it allows us to catch positive cases that otherwise wouldn’t have been caught,” Harrison said.

If there are three or more cases in a classroom, that whole class gets tested. So far, it’s happening in four schools, and Harrison says out of that, they’ve found 16 asymptomatic cases from about 60 students tested.

“That was the main strategy there was to more targeted testing,” said Harrison.

But with younger children now eligible to get the vaccine, the hope is that the risk for spread will go down.

Box Elder County Commissioner Jeff Hadfield said, “Our numbers are starting to come down, so we’ll see here in a couple of weeks if we feel like we need to extend it another month.”

Hadfield said that’s why they seem to be leaning toward dropping their test-to-stay protocol.

Harrison, however, said you still have to consider the relatively low vaccination rate in the county so far, with only about 53% of adults fully vaccinated.

“My hope is that it would stay around because it does no harm in keeping it there for when we need it, and be able to address those classroom outbreaks,” said Harrison.

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Box Elder County Commissioners to consider scrapping COVID-19 test-to-stay plan for schools