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The new Covid test model aims to save students from quarantine

When the school in Marietta, Georgia opened on August 3, a highly contagious variant of the Delta swept the South and was not spared children.

By August 20, 51 students in a small school district in the city Test positive For the coronavirus. Nearly 1,000 other people were flagged as close contacts and had to be quarantined at home for 7-10 days.

Gran Tribella, director of Marietta City School, said:

Last week, the district changed tack. Students identified as having a close relationship can continue to attend school as long as they are asymptomatic and have a negative virus test daily for 7 days.

More and more school districts are looking to tests to keep more children in the classroom and avoid disrupting their parents’ work. Due to a resource-intensive approach (also known as a “stay test” or modified quarantine), students exposed to the virus frequently take and adhere to the Covid tests normally provided by the school. You can stay. For other precautions.

Experts agree that children infected with the virus need to be quarantined at home, but the question of what to do with classmates poses a dilemma.

Allowing children exposed to the virus to stay in school poses a potential risk of infection, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it.Not enough evidenceSupports the approach. Instead, we recommend close contacts that have not been fully quarantined for 14 days. (Vaccinated close contact can remain in the classroom as long as it is asymptomatic and wearing a mask. Agency school guidance.. )

“We do not recommend or recommend a test-to-stay program at this time,” the CDC said in a statement to the New York Times. The agency added, “But we are working with multiple jurisdictions that have chosen to use these approaches to gather more information.”

The CDC guidelines mean that a single case of Covid in elementary school where students are generally too young to be vaccinated can drive their entire classroom out of school.New York City School guidelines It also stipulates everything Unvaccinated students need to be quarantined 7-10 days if one of your classmates is infected with the virus.

Hundreds or thousands of students already needed to be quarantined in Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, and some other areas of the Covid hotspot, as the school year has barely begun. In mid-August, Mississippi About 30,000 students In quarantine, according to Data reported to the state..

Was just a new study Published last week Lancet suggests that the test-to-stay approach may be safe. Randomized controlled trials include more than 150 schools in the United Kingdom, where close contact with infected students and staff can remain in class on daily inspections, with more cases than schools requiring home quarantine. It turns out that the rate is not significantly higher.

Researchers have tested that approximately 2% of close school-based contacts are ultimately virus-positive. This means that each time one student tests positive, the school keeps 49 uninfected students out of class.

Dr. Bernadette Young, lead infectious disease expert at Oxford University, said: The author of the treatise.

This summer, the UK announced that children have been identified as close contacts. No longer need to quarantineAlthough it encouraged them to be tested for the virus.

As school officials embark on the third year of the pandemic, many say it’s time for a new approach.

“The philosophy of this is how to keep healthy children in school and sick children at home.” Isaac Seevers, director of the Lebanon City School in Ohio, launches a test-to-stay program. He said he was preparing. “I think there is some real optimism that this is a game changer on how we learn to live with Covid.”

Melissa Truegibbs, the mother of two teenagers in Sandy, Utah, doesn’t want to think about last fall. “It was hell,” she said.

In August, her soccer daughter Lydia and her play-loving son Brody set foot in Alta High School.

By late September, Covid cases had increased, schools closed doors and moved to online learning. Two weeks later, it moved to a hybrid schedule. One day a student came to school and the other day he learned from home. After that, I met in person and then returned to hybrid, and as the number of cases increased again, I went completely online. ..

“My kids are pretty resilient,” said True Gibbs. “But earlier that year, I saw something happening to my kids that scared me. They weren’t emotionally or mentally good and were having a hard time.”

Many other schools in Utah had similar experiences. Therefore, as winter approached, authorities developed a test-to-stay protocol. Fifteen small schools, or large schools with a 1% infection rate, can switch to online learning or host a mass test event. Students who test negative will be able to return to class, and infected students and students whose family members do not agree to the test will be at home.

Thirteen schools, including Altahai, held test-to-stay events earlier this year.However 0.7% of 13,809 students Test positive, Researcher reported May.

Dr. Adam Hirsch, an expert on pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah and co-author of the treatise, said:

Researchers have discovered that the program saved more than 100,000 student days last winter.

True Gibbs said the test program allowed children who failed the test to continue teaching, practicing and rehearsing. “For my kids, they felt safer because they knew that the students in school weren’t sick,” she said.

March, state Enact the law Request the school to hold Test to stay event When a certain occurrence threshold is reached.

Other schools and districts have adopted similar solutions, with a focus on testing only those students who have been identified as closely related.

Several states including Illinois, Kansas, California When Massachusetts, As well as some other local districts, outlined its own stay test or modified quarantine protocol. More than 2,000 schools in Massachusetts use state procedures, which allow you to: Close contact to stay at school Asymptomatic, wear a mask and test negative for virus daily for 7 days after exposure.

Many parents across the country are excited about the new approach. The first six weeks of school were disastrous for Monica Funbro, who has a second-grade twin daughter and a fifth-grade son at Marietta’s school.

“Every Friday, I gave a little cheer. I succeeded throughout the week without being quarantined,” she said. “I feel like sending them to school every day. We’re rolling dice that will receive close contact notifications, so even if they were in close contact. Even so, having the option of keeping them in school is a huge problem for my family. “

She said attending classes directly is not only a better educational experience for children, but also a benefit. For her and her husband, they both work at home.

But Jennifer Schottwell, who has children and grandchildren in Missouri schools, does not endanger vulnerable children, such as granddaughters with autoimmune disease, if they leave close contact with the school. I was worried. “If I could go my own way, the modified quarantine was never used in her classroom until the students were vaccinated,” she said.

Also, some regions have stricter guidelines than others. Massachusetts and Marietta require daily testing for close contact, while Illinois requires testing every other day, and California guidelines stipulate twice-weekly testing.

In some districts, this practice has been completely abandoned to solve the destructive quarantine problem. Joekoch, Vice President of the School District in Walkisha, Wisconsin, said: It’s up to you how you want to manage Covid yourself, “he said.

For the test-to-stay approach to work, the test must be readily available and easily accessible. So far, relatively few families have opted for the Marietta program, according to Dr. Rivera. Probably because there is no means of transportation to the district’s central test center. (The district wants to quickly increase the number of test sites.)

In Bay County, Michigan, more than 300 students have already been identified as close associates, said county health officer Joel Strass.

“We need to do a test in the field before we enter school,” Strass said of the test-to-stay protocol. “If you only need to test 5 or 10 children, it’s pretty manageable. But if you need to do close to 100 tests, it can be difficult and to provide resources to the school. I had to scramble. “

According to experts, the test-to-stay program is most feasible when combined with other safety measures, including masking. Utah, which needed a mask at school last year, banned such an obligation this year, and some districts decided not to test at all until the outbreak threshold was reached, the state said. Covid test director Kendra Babbits said.

Dr. Hirsch said robust testing is a “really important” strategy to support face-to-face learning. “But it’s operationally difficult, so to the extent that we can reduce the frequency of having to worry about being exposed to close contact, and with everything that comes with it, we have a much more sustainable learning environment. I’m going to create. “

The new Covid test model aims to save students from quarantine

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