CDC Releases 'Test to Stay' Data on School Workers

22 Dec, 2021 Frank Ferreri


Washington, DC ( – Even before the omicron variant start grabbing headlines last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tweaked its guidance to emphasize testing and contact tracing for school populations, including workers.

Releasing data for its “Test to Stay” program this week, the CDC advised that using “serial testing,” which is repeated at least twice during a seven-day period post-exposure, demonstrated law COVID-19 transmission in school settings. However, the data did not always show a major improvement in comparison to the pre-TTS situation.

Here were the agency’s reported findings:

  • A trial in the U.K. compared 86 secondary schools and institutions of higher education that used daily testing for close contacts in lieu of quarantine to 76 secondary schools and IHEs using traditional quarantine for close contacts. Daily testing while remaining in-person did not differ from traditional quarantine in limiting COVID transmission, resulting in similar rates of school absence and transmission to contacts, although only 42 percent of contacts participated in daily testing.
  • A study in Los Angeles County compared COVID-19 student case rates in 39 school districts that implemented TTS to 39 school districts using traditional quarantine from September 20, 2021, through October 31, 2021. The ratio of student COVID-19 case rates in TTS districts compared with non-TTS districts was similar before and after TTS adoption.
  • In a study of 90 K-12 schools in Lake County, Illinois, that implemented TTS during the fall 2021 semester, secondary transmission remained low, at 1.5 percent among 1,035 students and staff members enrolled in the program. None of the secondary cases appeared to transmit COVID to other school-based contacts. However, nine additional cases in five households were identified among household contacts of the 16 secondary cases. 

The CDC did not provide new guidance based on the data, but the agency still recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools regardless of vaccination status.

"Test-to-Stay is another valuable tool in a layered prevention strategy that includes promoting vaccination of eligible students and staff, requiring everyone age 2 and older wear a mask inside schools and facilities, keeping at least 3 feet of distance between students, screening testing, ventilation, handwashing, and staying home when sick," the CDC posted on its website.

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    About The Author

    • Frank Ferreri

      Frank Ferreri, M.A., J.D. covers workers' compensation legal issues. He has published books, articles, and other material on multiple areas of employment, insurance, and disability law. Frank received his master's degree from the University of South Florida and juris doctor from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

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