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Marana Unified changing COVID policies to keep more kids in school

Estes Elementary School
Posted at 8:50 PM, Jan 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-19 00:27:15-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — On a weekday afternoon in Marana, kids are hard at work inside Estes Elementary School.

"Since we've returned from Winter break, like other schools in the Tucson area, we've been dealing with the Coronavirus. We're obviously seeing a surge here," said Marana Unified School District Director of Public Relations, Alli Benjamin.

As of Tuesday, Marana Unified School District reported 73 active COVID cases. Prior to 2022, anyone that came in contact with a positive case was required to quarantine. Now, that's all changing.

"If a student or staff member is exposed, we give them two options. They can either quarantine at home for five days and then test, or they can participate in the 'Test to Stay' program," said Benjamin.

The 'Test to Stay' policy encourages students and staff members to test after being exposed to COVID. If they're negative, they can stay in school and avoid a multiple-day quarantine from home.

"This gives families, and staff members, an option, if they are feeling okay, if they are testing negative, to be able to return to school, continue participating in school and classroom activities and remain involved as long as they are presenting as healthy," said Benjamin.

The policy was developed by the Pima County Health Department and CDC. The district believes it will have big benefits.

"Students and staff want to return to in-person activities and learning because it's something you can't always replicate at home. There has been learning loss," said Benjamin.

The district has a limited number of take-home COVID tests to give out. Benjamin said they will try to provide for as many families as they can.

"We are just constantly reminding staff and family members to please, please stay home when they're sick. We are still recommending that folks wear masks in school. We're also doing our best to prevent the transmission of COVID in the schools," said Benjamin.