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Lamont announces new 'Screen and Stay' plan to help kids stay in school

Joe Amon
Connecticut Public
Vaccinated students at Newington High School raise their hands as Gov. Ned Lamont announces the rollout of the voluntary Screen and Stay initiative for Connecticut schools on Nov. 4, 2021, in Newington, Connecticut.

A new voluntary state plan for Connecticut schools will let students and staff who aren’t fully vaccinated stay in school after close contact with someone who has COVID-19. Gov. Ned Lamont rolled out the new plan Thursday to help schools return to normalcy faster.

Vidhisha Thakkarm a Newington High School senior, said she’s excited for what the state is calling the “Screen and Stay” initiative because it’ll help her friends stay in the classroom.

“I think this is a good initiative to keep people in class, keep them up to date, because it can be very difficult to catch up afterwards,” Vidhisha said. “Especially for unvaccinated students who would have to stay home. I know a couple of close friends who were severely impacted by this because they couldn’t come to school, so I think it’s a great initiative.”

All students and staff with masks on can participate immediately if the close COVID-19 contact happens during the school day, on school grounds, on school transportation, and if the affected people don’t develop symptoms. If people outdoors were masked or unmasked but were supervised by staff, such as mask breaks or recess, those people would still be eligible.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public
Connecticut Public
Vidhisha Thakkar, 17, a senior at Newington High School, applauded the Screen and Stay plan. “I think this is a good initiative to keep people in class, keep them up to date, because it can be very difficult to catch up afterwards,” she said.

People may not be eligible if contact happened during interscholastic or other unsupervised athletic activities, if contact occurred during events outside of school, if people weren’t consistently or correctly wearing masks indoors, and if upon returning to school, the contact cannot wear a mask.

The governor told a roomful of students and staff that this will bring relief to quarantines that take students out of their learning and puts a heavy burden on families.

“This allows you to stay in the classroom, and what a difference that makes,” Lamont said.

The state departments of Education and Public Health said that access to in-person learning is critical and that this initiative will be a “game changer.” The state expects the plan to remain in effect through the fall.

Catherine Shen is a Connecticut Public’s education reporter. The Los Angeles native comes to CT Public after a decade of print and digital reporting across the country.

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