CDC announces 'test-to-stay' school policy for students exposed to COVID-19

The policy announcement arrives as some schools grapple with the idea of another round of remote learning
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The CDC on Friday announced it will allow children who have been exposed to COVID-19 to remain in school if they test negative at least twice in a week, after interacting with an infected person.

The goal of the policy is to keep as many children in school as possible, given the actual risk of them contracting and spreading the illness.

"If exposed children meet a certain criteria and continue to test negative, they can stay in school, instead of quarantining at home," said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. 

Research used by the CDC and conducted in Lake County, Illinois, showed that implementing the proposed strategy eliminated over  8,000 missed school days across 90 schools. The same policy applied to Los Angeles County schools prevented about 92,000 absences.

In each study, the schools required masks and monitored students who tested positive for symptoms and conducted regular tests on those who were in close contact with the positive test cases. 

"These studies demonstrate that test-to-stay works to keep unvaccinated children in school safely," said Walensky at a Friday briefing. 

The policy introduction by the CDC arrives as several districts across the country go virtual again ahead of an expected holiday spike in COVID-19 cases that has sparked the worry that students may have to adapt once again to remote learning.