Test-to-Stay After Exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in K-12 Schools.



We evaluated the safety and efficacy of a test-to-stay program for unvaccinated students and staff who experienced an unmasked, in-school exposure to someone with confirmed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. Serial testing instead of quarantine was offered to asymptomatic contacts. We measured secondary and tertiary transmission rates within participating schools and in-school days preserved for participants.


Participating staff or students from universally masked districts in North Carolina underwent rapid antigen testing at set intervals up to 7 days after known exposure. Collected data included location or setting of exposure, participant symptoms, and school absences up to 14 days after enrollment. Outcomes included tertiary transmission, secondary transmission, and school days saved among test-to-stay participants. A prespecified interim safety analysis occurred after 1 month of enrollment.


We enrolled 367 participants and completed 14-day follow-up on all participants for this analysis. Nearly all (215 of 238, 90%) exposure encounters involved an unmasked index case and an unmasked close contact, with most (353 of 366, 96%) occurring indoors, during lunch (137 of 357, 39%) or athletics (45 of 357, 13%). Secondary attack rate was 1.7% (95% confidence interval: 0.6%-4.7%) based on 883 SARS-CoV-2 serial rapid antigen tests with results from 357 participants; no tertiary cases were identified, and 1628 (92%) school days were saved through test-to-stay program implementation out of 1764 days potentially missed.


After unmasked in-school exposure to SARS-CoV-2, even in a mostly unvaccinated population, a test-to-stay strategy is a safe alternative to quarantine.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Campbell, Melissa M, Daniel K Benjamin, Tara Mann, Alex Fist, Hwasoon Kim, Laura Edwards, Zsolt Rak, M Alan Brookhart, et al. (2022). Test-to-Stay After Exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in K-12 Schools. Pediatrics, 149(5). p. e2021056045. 10.1542/peds.2021-056045 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/31154.

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Melissa M Campbell

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

Daniel Kelly Benjamin

Kiser-Arena Distinguished Professor

Dr. Danny Benjamin is the Principal Investigator and Chair of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Pediatric Trials Network. The Network is responsible for designing and leading clinical trials of off-patent medicines in children of all ages across all therapeutic areas. The team has established, or is actively studying, the correct dosing and safety of more than 70 of the most commonly used medicines in children. Each of these trials is conducted under an Investigational New Drug (IND) application with guidance from the Food and Drug Administration for labeling.

The Pediatric Trials Network has directly impacted the healthcare of over 90% of American children.

Signature programs of the Network include clinical trials in premature, term infants, breast feeding mothers, and obese children. Over the past 10 years, Danny’s group has enrolled more premature infants, at more sites, in more clinical trials of off-patent anti-infectives under an IND than all other academic medical centers, pharmaceutical companies, and government agencies in the world, combined.

Danny is recognized by the National Institutes of Health as a premiere mentor and educator. His research program serves as a platform to train students and early career investigators. Danny’s group has a clinical research summer program for high school and college students that has a focus on trainees under-represented in medicine, and he is the primary mentor for medical students, residents, subspecialty fellows, and multiple junior faculty. He has been the primary or secondary mentor for 10 faculty who have received career development awards and who have then gone on to secure their own funding.

Danny's service to the community is expressed through his passion for coaching baseball. He has coached over 500 recreation league, travel league, and scholastic baseball games and he is the head coach of Smith Middle School, the 5-year reigning southern conference champions. Danny and his wife own a charitable non-profit that provides athletic and fitness opportunities for disadvantaged school-aged boys and girls.


Angelique Boutzoukas

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

I am a pediatric infectious disease specialist and pediatric clinical researcher. My research interests are centered around finding the optimal ways to manage infections and minimize harms to patients. Recognizing the growing global threat of antibiotic resistance, I am particularly interested in finding the right dose and duration of antibiotics that children should receive to treat their infections, and studying the epidemiology and prevention of antibiotic resistant infections.   


Ganga Moorthy

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

Kanecia Obie Zimmerman

Wilburt C. Davison Distinguished Professor

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