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1.
Transl Behav Med ; 2022 Oct 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2087847

ABSTRACT

Rapid identification and isolation/quarantine of COVID-19 cases or close contacts, respectively, is a vital tool to support safe, in-person learning. However, safe isolation or quarantine for a young child also necessitates home confinement for at least one adult caregiver, as well as rapid learning material development by the teacher to minimize learning loss. The purpose of this study is to better understand barriers and supports to student home confinement. We conducted a mixed-methods study using focus group discussions and a self-administered online survey with parents and staff members from 12 elementary schools and childcare sites across San Diego County serving low-income and socially vulnerable families. Focus group participants reported that mental distress and loneliness, learning loss, childcare, food, income loss, and overcrowded housing were major barriers related to home confinement. The experiences described by FGD participants were prevalent in a concurrent community survey: 25% of participants reported that isolation would be extremely difficult for a household member who tested positive or was exposed to COVID-19, and 20% were extremely concerned about learning loss while in isolation or quarantine. Our findings suggest that there are serious structural impediments to safely completing the entire recommended course of isolation or quarantine, and that the potential for isolation or quarantine may also lead to increased hesitancy to access diagnostic testing.


BACKGROUND: During the COVID-19 pandemic, home confinement (isolation and quarantine) are important public health tools to keep children learning in-person at schools. However, isolation or quarantine for young children also means that often their caregivers must also go into home confinement, as well as forcing teachers to adapt their lessons to online teaching. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to better understand what makes home confinement comfortable or difficult for students and their families. METHODS: We did focus group discussions and shared an online survey with parents and staff members from 12 elementary schools and childcare centers across San Diego County vulnerable families. RESULTS: Focus group participants said that mental distress and loneliness, learning loss, childcare, food, income loss, and overcrowded housing made home confinement hard to do. Also 25% of survey participants said that isolation would be difficult for a household member who tested positive or was exposed to COVID-19, and 20% were really concerned about their child's learning loss if the family had to isolate or do quarantine. CONCLUSIONS: Our study's results suggest that there are serious structural issues for school families to safely go into isolation or quarantine, and because of this may make families more hesitant to get tested for COVID-19.

2.
mSystems ; 7(4): e0010922, 2022 Aug 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1891744

ABSTRACT

A promising approach to help students safely return to in person learning is through the application of sentinel cards for accurate high resolution environmental monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 traces indoors. Because SARS-CoV-2 RNA can persist for up to a week on several indoor surface materials, there is a need for increased temporal resolution to determine whether consecutive surface positives arise from new infection events or continue to report past events. Cleaning sentinel cards after sampling would provide the needed resolution but might interfere with assay performance. We tested the effect of three cleaning solutions (BZK wipes, Wet Wipes, RNase Away) at three different viral loads: "high" (4 × 104 GE/mL), "medium" (1 × 104 GE/mL), and "low" (2.5 × 103 GE/mL). RNase Away, chosen as a positive control, was the most effective cleaning solution on all three viral loads. Wet Wipes were found to be more effective than BZK wipes in the medium viral load condition. The low viral load condition was easily reset with all three cleaning solutions. These findings will enable temporal SARS-CoV-2 monitoring in indoor environments where transmission risk of the virus is high and the need to avoid individual-level sampling for privacy or compliance reasons exists. IMPORTANCE Because SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, persists on surfaces, testing swabs taken from surfaces is useful as a monitoring tool. This approach is especially valuable in school settings, where there are cost and privacy concerns that are eliminated by taking a single sample from a classroom. However, the virus persists for days to weeks on surface samples, so it is impossible to tell whether positive detection events on consecutive days are a persistent signal or new infectious cases and therefore whether the positive individuals have been successfully removed from the classroom. We compare several methods for cleaning "sentinel cards" to show that this approach can be used to identify new SARS-CoV-2 signals day to day. The results are important for determining how to monitor classrooms and other indoor environments for SARS-CoV-2 virus.

3.
mSystems ; 7(4): e0010322, 2022 Aug 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1891743

ABSTRACT

Surface sampling for SARS-CoV-2 RNA detection has shown considerable promise to detect exposure of built environments to infected individuals shedding virus who would not otherwise be detected. Here, we compare two popular sampling media (VTM and SDS) and two popular workflows (Thermo and PerkinElmer) for implementation of a surface sampling program suitable for environmental monitoring in public schools. We find that the SDS/Thermo pipeline shows superior sensitivity and specificity, but that the VTM/PerkinElmer pipeline is still sufficient to support surface surveillance in any indoor setting with stable cohorts of occupants (e.g., schools, prisons, group homes, etc.) and may be used to leverage existing investments in infrastructure. IMPORTANCE The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the lives of over 5 million people worldwide. Due to high density occupancy of indoor spaces for prolonged periods of time, schools are often of concern for transmission, leading to widespread school closings to combat pandemic spread when cases rise. Since pediatric clinical testing is expensive and difficult from a consent perspective, we have deployed surface sampling in SASEA (Safer at School Early Alert), which allows for detection of SARS-CoV-2 from surfaces within a classroom. In this previous work, we developed a high-throughput method which requires robotic automation and specific reagents that are often not available for public health laboratories such as the San Diego County Public Health Laboratory (SDPHL). Therefore, we benchmarked our method (Thermo pipeline) against SDPHL's (PerkinElmer) more widely used method for the detection and prediction of SARS-CoV-2 exposure. While our method shows superior sensitivity (false-negative rate of 9% versus 27% for SDPHL), the SDPHL pipeline is sufficient to support surface surveillance in indoor settings. These findings are important since they show that existing investments in infrastructure can be leveraged to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2 not in just the classroom but also in prisons, nursing homes, and other high-risk, indoor settings.

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