Vermont education officials share new testing guidance, warn against ‘temptation to build additional processes’

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The Vermont Agency of Education released new detailed guidance for schools Friday, as districts across the state prepare to overhaul Covid-19 testing procedures.

The state laid out instructions for how schools should conduct the new testing system, known as “test at home.” 

After a positive test is identified on campus, school officials should notify every person who shares a class with the person who tested positive.

Those classmates should pick up rapid antigen tests to take home, regardless of their vaccination status. 

Unvaccinated classmates should pick up five tests and test daily before school, while fully vaccinated classmates (and adults with boosters) should test themselves twice, on the fourth and fifth day after exposure.  

Officials also released a new Covid-19 advisory memo, laying out the state’s full recommendations for maintaining safe schools. Besides noting the new testing guidelines and the fact that the state no longer recommends contact tracing, that memo appeared similar to previous iterations.

But state officials emphasized Friday that there are limits to school districts’ responsibilities. 

“Schools should not monitor compliance of kit pick up or use of kits,” state officials wrote in the test-at-home guidelines. 

And in a Friday email to schools, Secretary of Education Dan French urged administrators “to avoid the temptation to build additional processes.”

“You should not prepare line lists, track cases, or undertake other activities associated with contact tracing,” French wrote. “Omicron’s speed of transition, and the rising case counts will quickly overwhelm your ability to keep up with these additional activities, and exhaust you and your staff.”

— Peter D’Auria

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