Controlling SARS-CoV-2 in schools using repetitive testing strategies

Andrea Torneri, Lander Willem, Vittoria Colizza, Cécile Kremer, Christelle Meuris, Gilles Darcis, Niel Hens, Pieter J K Libin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


SARS-CoV-2 remains a worldwide emergency. While vaccines have been approved and are widely administered, there is an ongoing debate whether children should be vaccinated or prioritized for vaccination. Therefore, in order to mitigate the spread of more transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants among children, the use of non-pharmaceutical interventions is still warranted. We investigate the impact of different testing strategies on the SARS-CoV-2 infection dynamics in a primary school environment, using an individual-based modelling approach. Specifically, we consider three testing strategies: (1) symptomatic isolation, where we test symptomatic individuals and isolate them when they test positive, (2) reactive screening, where a class is screened once one symptomatic individual was identified, and (3) repetitive screening, where the school in its entirety is screened on regular time intervals. Through this analysis, we demonstrate that repetitive testing strategies can significantly reduce the attack rate in schools, contrary to a reactive screening or a symptomatic isolation approach. However, when a repetitive testing strategy is in place, more cases will be detected and class and school closures are more easily triggered, leading to a higher number of school days lost per child. While maintaining the epidemic under control with a repetitive testing strategy, we show that absenteeism can be reduced by relaxing class and school closure thresholds.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere75593
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022, Torneri et al.


  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • Child
  • Humans
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Schools


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