CDC endorses 'test-to-stay' strategy to keep children in school after COVID-19 exposure

During the White House COVID-19 response team briefing on Friday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, offered details on a "test-to-stay" strategy for schoolchildren, which would allow unvaccinated students to remain in school after being exposed to someone with the coronavirus if they test negative twice in the seven days after the exposure.

Video transcript

ROCHELLE WALENSKY: This morning I want to talk with you now about how we can use these tools to help keep our children in school. Over the past few months, CDC has collaborated with school districts across the country to evaluate a new strategy known as "test-to-stay."

Today we're releasing CDC science on test-to-stay that allows unvaccinated children to stay in school, even if they have been exposed to the virus so that they don't have to miss school while they're quarantining at home. In the test-to-stay protocol, there's increased testing of close contacts after a COVID-19 exposure and that testing needs to be at least twice during the seven-day period after exposure.

If exposed children meet a certain criteria and continue to test negative, they can stay in school instead of quarantining at home. CDC is releasing two MMWR reports with evidence supporting the use of test-to-stay and how well it worked in two communities-- Lake County, Illinois and Los Angeles County.

These studies demonstrate that test-to-stay works to keep unvaccinated children in school safely. In order for test-to-stay to be implemented safely and correctly, some key prevention measures need to be included. In both studies, masks were worn consistently and correctly. Close contacts of a positive case were monitored for symptoms and stayed home if they became ill. And those who did not develop symptoms had regular testing.

Test-to-stay as an encouraging public health practice to keep our children in school. And CDC is updating our materials to help schools and parents know how to best implement this promising and now proven practice, along with our multilayered prevention strategies that will help keep our children in the classroom safely.