Editorial: COVID testing policy is insufficient

We’re over 600 days into the COVID-19 pandemic, but Fairfax County Public Schools is still lagging behind for coronavirus testing.

FCPS recently announced new COVID-19 testing procedures, including optional opt-in parental consent forms that must be signed for any student to be tested as a plan to test 10% of all unvaccinated students weekly. But according to a Freedom of Information Act response posted on Twitter by the Fairfax County Parents Association, a watchdog group founded in the wake of FCPS distance learning, only 124 families across the county had opted in as of Nov. 17.

FCPS could follow the lead of schools in Maryland’s Montgomery County and initiate a “test to stay” policy, allowing students exposed to COVID to avoid quarantining by submitting to daily negative rapid tests. Montgomery County has continued to be a leader in student vaccination and testing, and their numbers show it.

The school system should also require weekly testing of unvaccinated students, just like it requires weekly testing of unvaccinated teachers and athletes. The decision would be in tune with the policies many colleges and universities have put in place as well. Weekly testing of all unvaccinated students would be a far better barometer of the transmission rate in the county than a mere 10% of the unvaccinated population.