CDC endorses ‘Test to Stay’ COVID-19 strategy for public schools

In the attempt to prevent schools from closing in the midst of the omicron variant, the Biden administration endorsed a new strategy called “Test to Stay.”

The approach is intended to prevent students from having to take lengthy quarantine periods if they have been exposed to the coronavirus in the classroom.

Students can instead continue going to school, provided that they are frequently tested for COVID-19 and do not exhibit any symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also endorsed the strategy.

“Test to Stay is an encouraging public health practice to help keep our children in school,” said CDC director Rochelle Walensky. Her remarks came during a Friday briefing of the White House pandemic response team, which took place as infection rates across many parts of the country are rising. 

As Walensky reiterated the need to continue masking in schools, she added, “That testing needs to be at least twice during the seven-day period after exposure.” But the CDC did not say that state and local officials will go ahead with the implementation of the guidance.

The TTS approach, as it is abbreviated, relies on the availability of antigen tests, also known as rapid tests. Those tests are still expensive and hard to find in many parts of the country. 

Still, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a Stanford professor of medicine who has been critical of the Biden administration’s response to the pandemic, said the strategy is “a huge improvement over the previous regimen, which resulted in long quarantines for kids that served no public health purpose.”

While the omicron variant has been detected in multiple regions of the United States, the doctor who originally discovered the strain said she was seeing “extremely mild” cases, which has continued to stay true as the virus spreads in America. 




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