Home Abigail Spanberger Reps. Spanberger, Wexton, Luria Call on Governor-Elect Youngkin to Support Virginia School...

Reps. Spanberger, Wexton, Luria Call on Governor-Elect Youngkin to Support Virginia School COVID-19 Testing Protocols to Keep Schools Open, Minimize Learning Loss in the Face of the Omicron Variant 

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From Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA07), Elaine Luria (D-VA02) and Jennifer Wexton (D-VA10):

Spanberger, Wexton, Luria Call on Governor-Elect Youngkin to Support Virginia School COVID-19 Testing Protocols to Keep Schools Open, Minimize Learning Loss in the Face of the Omicron Variant 

The American Rescue Plan included More Than $2.1 Billion for Virginia Schools through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ahead of the January 2022 gubernatorial inauguration, U.S. Representatives Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10), and Elaine Luria (D-VA-02) — all parents of school-aged children — today called on Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin to expand Virginia’s “Test to Stay” COVID-19 testing protocols, which would help ensure schools stay open, prevent additional learning loss, and reduce absenteeism.

The American Rescue Plan provided more than $2.1 billion for Virginia schools through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief program. Additionally, the law allocated approximately $257 million to support Virginia’s COVID-19 testing programs through the Epidemiology and Lab Capacity Reopening Schools program — and the Virginia General Assembly in August 2021 approved an additional $244 million of American Rescue Plan funding to support COVID-19 testing in Virginia schools. This support has provided free COVID-19 testing for dozens of school districts and thousands of students across Virginia. 

This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) endorsed Test to Stay protocols, which allow students who are exposed to COVID-19 but test negative to remain in school instead of quarantining at home. In a joint letter sent to Youngkin, the Virginia Congresswomen urged the Governor-elect to use federal funding to maintain critical K-12 testing protocols and expand Test to Stay programs, as they have a proven ability to protect the health and safety of Virginia’s students, teachers, administrators, and school staff.

“When used as part of a layered prevention strategy, Test to Stay guidelines can allow students who would otherwise have to quarantine at home to continue in-person learning if they test negative for COVID-19 at least twice during a seven-day period after exposure,” said Spanberger, Wexton, and Luria. “When combined with other prevention strategies such as promoting vaccinations, consistent use of masks indoors, social distancing, and staying home when sick, Test to Stay practices can be a vital tool to ensure schools safely remain open.

Their letter continued, “We urge you to keep policies in place that allow schools to use American Rescue Plan funding to promote known prevention and mitigation strategies, as well as develop a strategy to expand Test to Stay programs to schools across the Commonwealth. We hope your administration will prioritize federal funding to expand this program, so it is available for all schools that wish to participate.”

Click here to read the letter, and the full letter text is also below.

Dear Governor-elect Youngkin, 

As you prepare to assume office next month, we write to you regarding the importance of prevention and mitigation strategies that can be implemented to keep schools safely open for in-person learning, including Test to Stay protocols. We trust you agree that students need to be in the classroom and we as policymakers must do our best to ensure they stay there. The American Rescue Plan Act, which we proudly supported, provides billions in resources for Virginia K-12 schools to protect the health of students, staff, and educators. As members of Congress with school-aged children, we strongly encourage you to utilize this funding to keep schools safely open. 

In March 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act into law – the largest-ever one-time federal investment in K-12 education. The law included more than $2.1 billion for Virginia through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief program to help students, educators, and parents across the Commonwealth address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, the American Rescue Plan Act also allocated more than $257 million to support COVID-19 testing programs in Virginia’s schools through the Epidemiology and Lab Capacity (ELC) Reopening Schools program. 

In October 2021, the U.S. Department of Education approved Virginia’s American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief plan. Under the plan, funding is to be used to address learning loss due to the pandemic and support prevention and mitigation strategies for a safe return to in-person instruction. We were pleased to see the Virginia General Assembly allocate an additional $244 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding in August 2021 to support COVID-19 testing in schools, which was used to provide free COVID-19 testing for dozens of school districts across the Commonwealth. 

On December 17, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published two evaluations of separate school districts’ implementation of Test to Stay protocols as a tool to minimize absenteeism and learning loss. When used as part of a layered prevention strategy, Test to Stay guidelines can allow students who would otherwise have to quarantine at home to continue in-person learning if they test negative for COVID-19 at least twice during a seven-day period after exposure. When combined with other prevention strategies such as promoting vaccinations, consistent use of masks indoors, social distancing, and staying home when sick, Test to Stay practices can be a vital tool to ensure schools safely remain open.

We urge you to keep policies in place that allow schools to use American Rescue Plan funding to promote known prevention and mitigation strategies, as well as develop a strategy to expand Test to Stay programs to schools across the Commonwealth. We hope your administration will prioritize federal funding to expand this program, so it is available for all schools that wish to participate.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue impacting our schools, students, parents, and communities. We look forward to working with you to ensure the health, safety, and academic opportunity for all children across the Commonwealth as we contend with the COVID-19 pandemic.

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