Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, testify before a committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., July 20, 2021. (J. Scott Applewhite/Reuters)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention supports allowing students exposed to coronavirus to remain in school without quarantining as long as they are regularly tested for the virus, CDC head Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters on Friday.

“Test-to-stay is an encouraging public health practice to help keep our children in school,” Walensky said.

The CDC released two studies of school districts that employed the “test-to-stay” strategy, arguing that regular testing can reduce the need for students exposed to coronavirus to quarantine.

One district in Lake County, Ill., allowed students in close contact with an infected person to return to class provided they wore masks and took coronavirus tests every other day for a week after the exposure. The study, conducted from August through October, found that out of 1,000 people who were in close contact with a Covid-positive person, just 16 developed coronavirus infections and did not spread it to others in school.

A study in some Los Angeles city schools found similar results after tracking 7,511 close contacts of Covid patients.

“These studies demonstrate that test-to-stay works to keep unvaccinated children in school safely,” Walensky said, adding that the strategy is “a promising and now proven practice.”

The CDC is adding “test-to-stay” to a set of recommendations for schools to use during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Test-to-Stay is another valuable tool in a layered prevention strategy that includes promoting vaccination of eligible students and staff, requiring everyone age 2 and older wear a mask inside schools and facilities, keeping at least 3 feet of distance between students, screening testing, ventilation, handwashing, and staying home when sick,” the agency said in a statement.

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