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Co-teachers at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 Marisa Wiezel and Caitlin Kenny give a lesson on September 27 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

To prepare for an expected surge in coronavirus cases driven by the Omicron variant, the Biden administration on Friday unveiled a "test to stay" strategy that aims to keep students in school.

Driving the news: The surging number of cases is leading many school districts to return to remote learning, raising concerns about a broader interruption in student learning.

  • A Biden administration official told Axios this week that "a large wave" of cases is coming, pointing to data from South Africa and Europe that indicate the Omicron variant is spreading rapidly and vaccines offer less protection against it compared to other variants.

Details: Under the strategy, students who are identified as close contacts of a COVID-positive individual should remain in school if they test negative at least twice during the week after exposure.

  • This does away with the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation of requiring quarantine for students who are identified as close contacts, according to NBC, which first reported the strategy change.
  • The CDC on Friday also released two reports highlighting school districts that have successfully implemented the "test to stay" policy.
  • CDC Director Rochelle Walensky stressed that students within those districts regularly wore masks and exposure events were closely monitored.

The big picture: The strategy change comes as the number of coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths climb across the country.

  • Just 18% of children ages 5 to 11 have received at least one shot the COVID-19 vaccine and 61% of individuals 12 to 17 have received at least one dose, the American Academy of Pediatrics said last week.
  • The Omicron variant, which is likely to become the dominant strain in the U.S. soon, appears to be more contagious than Delta, Axios' Sam Baker and Kavya Beheraj report.

Go deeper: COVID cases rising with Christmas — and Omicron — around the corner

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters, WHO says — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older.
  5. Variant tracker
Hope King, author of Closer
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Peloton pumps its brakes

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Peloton’s popularity is falling as swiftly as it shot up.

Why it matters: Not all pandemic habits stick around. Peloton's trajectory over the past two years exemplifies how challenging it's been for companies to gauge shifts in consumer demand — particularly in sectors heavily altered by the pandemic.

First look: Senators propose bill to ban corporate PACs

Sens. Jon Ossoff and Mark Kelly. Photos: Chip Somodevilla (left), Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

Sens. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) will soon propose a bill prohibiting for-profit corporations from establishing and managing political action committees, according to a copy of the legislation obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The introduction of "The Ban Corporate PACs Act" comes amid heightened scrutiny on Capitol Hill regarding money in politics, including efforts to bar companies from influencing political campaigns and federal elections. It would likely face a court challenge and First Amendment concerns.