Gov. Ned Lamont said more than two-thirds of the state’s school districts will participate in the COVID-19 Screen and Stay initiative.

The governor announced in a news release that 80% of schools responding to the District Participation Screen and Stay survey conducted by the Department of Education have said they are opting into the program that is designed to keep students in the classroom.

“Screen and Stay is one of the critical tools in our toolbox to keep schools open, and most importantly, keep our students in school,” Lamont said in the release. “Some of the most important moments for children are those that are spent in the classroom, learning both social and educational skills among their peers and with their teachers. We want to maximize the amount of time spent in school, while minimizing disruption, and keeping our students, staff, and administrators safe.”

Lamont announced the measure last month. Screen and Save will allow K-12 students and associated school staff identified as close contacts to someone known to have contracted COVID-19 test or not fully vaccinated to stay in the classroom provided they wear masks and do not develop any symptoms.

According to the release, the survey, which was open for school districts to respond between Nov. 18 and Dec. 6, showed 162 of the state’s school districts decided to utilize the program while 28 school districts opted out of the program. Nine other school districts remain undecided.

Results of the survey showed that districts saw the initiative as positive as it allows students to remain safely in the classroom, which school officials said is best for learning. Keeping students in the classrooms won’t disrupt work for parents who would have to find childcare in the event the students return home for remote learning.

The results also indicated 50% of the close contacts with COVID-19 have qualified to remain in the classroom under the Screen and Stay initiative.

“Cross-agency efforts have been aimed at getting and keeping our students learning in person, where they learn best and have access to a continuum of supports from staff, nutritious meals, physical activity, and more,” Commissioner Russell-Tucker said in the release. “The Connecticut State Department of Education is actively working with districts to maintain access to safe, healthy, and enriching in-person learning opportunities.”