Several states, including our nearby neighbor, Massachusetts, are offering schools a COVID-19 testing strategy called “test to stay.” If a student is found to be a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and the student is asymptomatic, rather than quarantining and missing out on school, the student is tested for COVID-19 daily at school with a rapid antigen test for seven days after the exposure. If the student tests negative each day, they continue to go to school.

Utah used a “test and stay” strategy during the last school year, in which students were tested if cases within the schools reached a certain outbreak threshold (resulting in multiple cases of students being identified as close contacts). The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied this approach and found that it saved a significant number of in-person instruction days.

A study published last week in The Lancet found similar rates of symptomatic infections between a group who quarantined (and missed out on in-person learning) and a group who were tested daily (and remained in the classroom). The authors of the study concluded that “daily contact testing should be considered for implementation as a safe alternative to home isolation following school-based exposures.”

The Maine Department of Education should endorse this testing strategy as an option for Maine schools. Our students can’t afford to continue to miss out on in-person education.

Emilie Garcia
North Yarmouth

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