Many kids (and parents!) were more excited about back-to-school this year than in years past. How much time each child had racked up in virtual learning lockdown varied, but for many, the novelty of being home all the time wore off some time back. Kids were ready to get back to seeing their friends five days a week and participating in their favorite sports and activities. They probably also simply craved some normalcy.
Of course, it all wouldn't be quite that simple, with the delta variant on the rise. Every time a child tested positive, the kids they'd had contact with were generally required to quarantine for 10 days. This meant that even in districts with relatively low case numbers, hundreds of perfectly healthy kids might be sent home. The return to normalcy was shaping up to be anything but.
But now, an increasing number of districts nationwide are experimenting with a test-to-stay model to keep all those healthy kids in school. Let's look at how it works, what the science says, and what the potential real estate investing implications might be.
Stay in school, kids
While the specifics of test-to-stay may vary somewhat from one jurisdiction to the next, the general idea is the same: Children who have been exposed to a student or faculty member who tested positive for coronavirus are notified, just as they are now. But instead of being required to quarantine at home for 10 days, the student must test for the virus regularly over a certain period of time, often daily for seven days. So long as they test negative, they get to stay in school.
According to The New York Times [subscription required], California, Illinois, Kansas, and Massachusetts are all practicing some version of test-to-stay, as are an increasing number of individual districts in other states. And a recent study published in The Lancet medical journal determined that test-to-stay is a safe practice.
As for the real estate implications, many offices are still on the fence about what their return-to-the-office plans will look like. Are they ready to bring workers back full time? Do they want to go with some sort of hybrid model, meaning remote some days, in the office others? Or maybe they'll allow workers to stay fully remote permanently, as several companies have already announced.
A child home for 10 days generally means a parent home for 10 days. And companies that have parents constantly out with quarantined kids may decide that bringing everyone back to the office just doesn't make much sense right now -- if ever.
The Millionacres bottom line
Test-to-stay is an idea with the potential to keep kids both safe and in school. And the fact that it could give companies one more check in the "reopen offices" column right now makes it good news for commercial investors, too.