CDC Endorses Schools’ Coronavirus ‘Test-to-Stay’ Policies

NEW YORK — U.S. health officials are endorsing “test-to-stay” policies that allow close contacts of students infected with the coronavirus to remain in classrooms if they test negative.

After a study of COVID-19 infection rates in Los Angeles and Chicago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided to embrace this approach more strongly.

“Test-to-stay is an encouraging public health practice to help keep our children in school,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Friday.

CDC’s official guidance for schools has been that when someone in a school tests positive for COVID-19 infection, those who were deemed to be in close contact should stay out of school, in home quarantine, for 10 days.
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Friday’s announcement by the CDC means that schools have the option of either test-to stay programs or quarantining methods.

There are hundreds of schools that have test-toss policies. Many states have also funded test-toss policies throughout the state to stop students spending too much time away from school.

The CDC previously stated there was promise in this approach as long as additional measures like masking were implemented for students and teachers.

The CDC collaborated with school districts in order to test the programs. Two studies were released by the agency that confirmed their effectiveness.

One occurred in suburb Lake County, Illinois just north of Chicago. They adopted an August program. If the contact and infected were both masked at the time of exposure, close contacts could remain in school. The close contact did not have symptoms, and was tested for the disease one, three and five days later.

There were 16 cases of infection among the over 1,000 contacts that were monitored, an average transmission rate of 1.5%. The approach was considered successful by health authorities and allowed students to remain in school.

Similar findings were also reported from a study looking at the fall of schools in Los Angeles County. Researchers found that the secondary infections rate for students in schools using the strategy was 0.7%.


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