Vermont’s Pediatricians Support Implementation of “Test to Stay Program” to Keep Vermont Children in School

September 28, 2021 - Vermont’s pediatricians support a "Test to Stay" (TTS) program for asymptomatic, unvaccinated children exposed to COVID-19 at school. Vermont pediatricians and pediatric infectious diseases specialists are collaborating with state agencies in the design and implementation of TTS based on the program currently in place in Massachusetts.

The Delta variant has led to an ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases throughout Vermont, resulting in more cases in Vermont’s K-12 schools. Unvaccinated close contacts of COVID-19 infected staff and students are required to quarantine at home, leading to significant missed school days for children and even some school closures in Vermont.

Test to Stay programs provide unvaccinated, asymptomatic children who are a close contact of a COVID-19 case due to in-school exposure an option to undergo daily rapid antigen testing for 7 days following exposure. Students may attend school each day following a negative test result, but otherwise must quarantine at home during the testing period. All participating students must also wear masks while in school. Symptomatic students cannot participate in TTS and should instead follow current guidance for return to school following illness. Test to Stay programs are only implemented for school-based exposures, as transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is less likely in this setting than other community environments. If a K-12 student is a close contact due to an exposure outside of the school setting, they must follow current guidance and quarantine at home.

The Vermont data shows that mitigation strategies employed by schools are effective in reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the school environment. A recently published randomized controlled trial in the U.K. demonstrated that schools using a TTS strategy had as little school transmission as schools quarantining students after in school exposure.

Planning and implementing a TTS program is complex at both the state and local level. AAPVT will continue to work closely with state agencies, school nurses and school leaders to develop solutions that will allow students to attend school safely while minimizing transmission of COVID-19.

To view the official press release click here.

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