CDC loosens COVID-19 testing, quarantine guidance for schools

Reagan Reese, DCNF

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance Thursday eliminating its Test to Stay policy in schools, which required students who were exposed to COVID-19 to test frequently in order to stay in school.

Students now have to wear a “well-fitting mask” and get tested following exposure to COVID-19 rather than follow the CDC’s Test to Stay policy, which allowed students who had been exposed to COVID-19 to remain in school as long as they tested a minimum of twice a week, according to the guidance. The Test to Stay policy is eliminated because quarantine is no longer included in the guidance for students who have been exposed to COVID-19.

If schools continue to quarantine students who have been exposed to COVID-19, then the Test to Stay policy is recommended to be continued, the guidance stated.

“This latest guidance from the CDC should give our students, parents, and educators the confidence they need to head back to school this year with a sense of joy and optimism,” Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement. “While COVID continues to evolve, so has our understanding of the science and what it takes to return to school safely. Thanks to vaccines, boosters, new treatments and commonsense safety precautions – as well as funding from the American Rescue Plan – our schools have more resources than ever before to provide the healthy learning environments our students need to grow and thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.”

The CDC suggested that if a student is exposed to COVID-19 and cannot wear a mask, schools and early childhood programs should consider masking and testing. Schools and early childhood settings are “not considered high-risk congregate settings” and administrators are to decide how to manage exposures with an emphasis on encouraging in-person learning.

There is significant evidence that masking in schools is not particularly effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19 in schools. Nearly 45% of K-12 educators reported that at least half of their students were behind grade-level expectations at the end of the year due to the pandemic.

The Department of Education declined the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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