Biden Administration Pushing “Test-to-Stay” Policy to Keep Kids in School

As more and more school districts are considering going back to virtual learning in an attempt to avoid the worst of the omicron variant, the Biden administration has announced a new “test-to-stay” strategy to increase Covid19 testing in order to keep children in the classroom.

The “test to stay” approach will allow unvaccinated students identified as close contacts of a Covid-positive peer to remain in school if they test negative at least twice during the week after the exposure, instead of having mandatory quarantines. 

The news comes as The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released two reports today that highlighted school districts that have used the “test to stay” approach successfully. 

Test to Stay (TTS) is a practice comprised of contact tracing and serial testing (testing that is sequentially repeated) to allow school-associated close contacts who are not fully vaccinated to continue in-person learning during their quarantine period.

While implementation of TTS may vary, contact tracing and testing – as well as masking of contacts during their in-school quarantine period – are integral to minimizing the risk of transmission. Schools may consider the use of TTS to minimize the impact of quarantine and limit school absences after a SARS-CoV-2 exposure in the K-12 school setting.

The Biden administration wants to prevent significant disruptions in hospital and school settings as cases of the omicron variant are now spiking.

“Test-to-Stay is another valuable tool in a layered prevention strategy that includes promoting vaccination of eligible students and staff, requiring everyone age two and older wear a mask inside schools and facilities, keeping at least 3 feet of distance between students, screening testing, ventilation, hand washing, and staying home when sick,” the CDC said in a statement.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics,  schools are particularly vulnerable to the new variant, with just 18 % of children between the ages of 5 to 11 recorded as receiving at least one shot and 61 % of kids 12 to 17 reportedly receiving at least one dose of the vaccine.

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