MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — In an effort to prevent as many students from being quarantined,  Montgomery County officials introduced a test-to-stay program, but the rollout is taking longer than expected. 

This delay is due to guidance from the Maryland Department of Health. They say the program is being used to avoid quarantines of unmasked students in a lunchroom setting, which was not “appropriate.”

The program was scheduled to launch last week and would allow students who had been in close contact with someone who tested positive to remain in school as long as they are asymptomatic, and test negative daily. 

While the program is put on hold, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Dr. Earl Stoddard says that they are prepared if the state updates its guidance. 

“When the state guidance came out, we thought we could narrow it down to just unmasked exposures because the masked ones won’t have to quarantine already,” said Stoddard. “But when the state provided its additional feedback last week, we kind of paused on that because we had to make sure what we were going to do was going to work for them.”

Dr. Stoddard says he will talk with MCPS by the end of the about how to proceed with this guidance.