Report

Testing as an Alternative to Quarantining: Key Considerations and Best Practices for Implementing Test to Stay

Recently acknowledged by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a key mechanism for keeping schools safe and open, Test to Stay programs allow students who are close contacts of positive cases for Covid-19 to stay in school and undergo repeated testing, instead of quarantining at home.

“Testing as an Alternative to Quarantining: Key Considerations and Best Practices for Implementing Test to Stay,” from the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, finds that when implemented correctly, Test to Stay programs have the potential to reduce tens of thousands of unnecessary student quarantines while keeping children safe in schools. It also explores the program’s potential for reducing longstanding school community inequities, especially for working parents, if state and school leaders can avoid key technical and equity pitfalls.

The brief highlights case studies from Test to Stay programs in Illinois, Massachusetts, and North Carolina, includes key takeaways from early data on those programs, and outlines ways other states can design and implement their own programs. The brief draws on interviews with state and school leaders, as well as leaders at ABC Science Collaborative, African American Covid Taskforce (AACT+), and Latinx Advocacy Team & Interdisciplinary Network for Covid-19 (LATIN-19).

  • The data is clear: Test to Stay programs mean that more kids are safe & parents face fewer quarantine disruptions, & everyone feels safer with in-person learning.
    Leah Perkinson
    Manager of Pandemics, The Rockefeller Foundation

Four Keys to Successful Test to Stay programs:

  • Fund and Staff Adequately: successful schools received funding quickly and efficiently hired appropriate staff members to help administer their programs.
  • Give More to Existing Underfunded Schools: states reallocated funds and staff to ensure that traditionally underfunded schools had adequate funding and staffing.
  • Help Parents and Students Understand: successful schools prioritized communicating their Test to Stay program to parents and students, including its benefits, how it would work and why it is safe.
  • Consider Cultural Differences: successful schools developed culturally appropriate responses that account for local contexts and parental views.
  • Report

    Testing as an Alternative to Quarantining: Key Considerations and Best Practices for Implementing Test to Stay

    Recently acknowledged by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a key mechanism for keeping schools safe and open, Test to Stay programs allow students who are close contacts of positive cases for Covid-19 to stay in school and undergo repeated testing, instead of quarantining at home. “Testing as an Alternative to Quarantining: […]
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