Test to Stay programs will keep schools open – if states provide enough staff and support

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, January 19, 2022

Duke-Margolis research reiterates test’s effectiveness to stay, but clarifies key technical and fairness pitfalls schools need to avoid

NEW YORK, January 19, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A new briefing note, Testing as an Alternative to Quarantine: Key Considerations and Best Practices for Implementing Testing to Stay, from the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, shows that Test to Stay school programs, when properly implemented, can reduce tens of thousands of unnecessary student quarantines while ensuring the safety of children in schools.

Supplementing guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this brief highlights case examples of Illinois, Massachusetts, and North Carolina Test to Stay programs, which allow students who are in close contact with positive Covid-19 cases to stay in school and undergo repeated testing, instead of quarantining at home. The brief shares ways to design and implement Test to Stay programs that are effective in keeping classrooms open and reducing long-standing inequalities, especially for working parents. These findings are based on interviews with state and school leaders, as well as leaders from the ABC Science Collaborative, the African American Covid Taskforce (AACT+), and the Latinx Advocacy Team and the interdisciplinary network for Covid-19 (LATIN-19).

“Keeping children safe at school and in person is essential to their mental health and educational well-being and, importantly, minimizes disruption to families, especially parents or caregivers who cannot working remotely,” said dr. Marc McClellan, director of the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy. “It is essential that policymakers implement strategies that overcome potential technical and equity gaps in their Test to Stay programs, if they are to fully realize the benefits of Test to Stay.”

The brief details key takeaways from early data on Test to Stay programs. Test to Stay can safely increase in-person school days for students who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 by allowing the student to remain in school while by being repeatedly tested as an alternative to quarantine at home. For example, the Illinois’ The Test to Stay program allowed more students to stay in school because they didn’t have to self-quarantine. Researchers found that of the 6,600 students identified as close contacts, only two percent (139 students) tested positive for Covid-19 and had to be quarantined. This represents 6,461 students who have been able to continue to learn in person safely rather than missing school and thousands of families who have not had to scramble to make unexpected childcare arrangements.

“The data is clear: Test to Stay programs mean more children are safe and in school, parents face less quarantine disruption and everyone – including teachers and staff – feels safer with in-person learning,” said Leah Perkinson, head of pandemics at the Rockefeller Foundation. “But the potential for success depends on the technical and fairness considerations outlined in today’s brief, including the provision of testing. If school officials don’t think through all the challenges ahead of time, they risk overburdening tired staff and alienating worried parents, especially in school districts that are already underfunded.”

The researchers also recommend that Test to Stay be used as part of a layered Covid-19 safety plan and combined with other strategies such as physical distancing, improved ventilation, masking and vaccinations. at school to create a safer school environment.

“Testing to stay implemented alongside other Covid-19 mitigation strategies offers a powerful tool to facilitate safe, in-person teaching,” said Andrea Thoumi, Health Equity Policy Fellow, Duke-Margolis. “Efforts focused on fair and equitable strategies are needed to ensure that all children, educators and school staff, especially those from marginalized and minority communities, can access Test to Stay.”

The brief also identifies four keys to success to help national and local authorities overcome the challenges of Test to Stay programs:

  • Adequate funds and personnel: Successful schools received funding quickly and effectively hired the appropriate staff members to help administer their programs.

  • Give more to existing underfunded schools: States have reallocated funds and staff to ensure that traditionally underfunded schools have adequate funding and staff.

  • Help parents and students understand: Successful schools have prioritized communicating their Test to Stay program to parents and students, including its benefits, how it works, and why it is safe.

  • Consider cultural differences: successful schools have developed culturally appropriate responses that take into account local contexts and parents’ opinions.

Today’s report is the latest in the Rockefeller Foundation’s ongoing efforts to provide American educators and policymakers with the tools they need to reopen their schools safely and effectively, including research around the world. real and operational advice. Find a compilation of resources here.

About the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy
The mission of the Robert J. Margolis, MD, Center for Health Policy at duke university is to improve health, health equity and the value of health care through practical, innovative and evidence-based policy solutions. For more information, visit healthpolicy.duke.edu and follow us on Twitter @DukeMargolis.

About the Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation is a pioneering philanthropy founded on collaborative partnerships at the frontiers of science, technology and innovation to enable individuals, families and communities to flourish. We work to promote the well-being of humanity and make opportunity universal. Our goal is to develop renewable energies for all, to stimulate economic mobility and to ensure equitable access to healthy and nutritious food. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at rockefellerfoundation.org and follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn.

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SOURCEThe Rockefeller Foundation

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