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A Test-to-Stay Modified Quarantine Program for COVID-19 in Schools.

Schechter-Perkins EM, Doron S, Johnston R, Hay J, Berlin D, Ciaranello A, Nelson SB, Gormley JM, Smole SC, Brown CM, Madoff LC, Branch-Elliman W. A Test-to-Stay Modified Quarantine Program for COVID-19 in Schools. Pediatrics. 2022 May 1; 149(5).

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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Mandatory quarantine upon exposure to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) results in a substantial number of lost days of school. We hypothesized that implementation of a state-wide test-to-stay (TTS) program would allow more students to participate in in-person learning, and not cause additional clusters of COVID-19 cases due to in-school transmission. METHODS: For the 2020-2021 academic year, Massachusetts implemented an opt-in TTS program, in which students exposed to COVID-19 in school are tested each school day with a rapid antigen test. If negative, students may participate in school-related activities that day. Testing occurs daily for a duration of 7 calendar days after exposure. Here, we report the results from the first 13 weeks of the program. RESULTS: A total of 2298 schools signed up for TTS, and 504?167 individuals out of a total population of 860?457 consented. During the first 13 weeks with complete data, 1959 schools activated the program at least once for 102?373 individual, exposed students. Out of 328?271 tests performed, 2943 positive cases were identified (per person positivity rate, 2.9%, 95% confidence interval, 2.8-3.0). A minimum of 325?328 and a maximum of 497?150 days of in-person school were saved through participation in the program. CONCLUSIONS: Daily, rapid on-site antigen testing is a safe and feasible alternative to mandatory quarantine and can be used to maximize safe in-person learning time during the pandemic.

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