Families Can Opt-In for At-Home COVID Tests for Students

 by Tom MarinoJanuary 18, 2022

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Department of Public Health (DPH) released updated data in two in-school testing programs. As of January 9, the Test and Stay programs 503,312 returned 496,440 (98.6%) of them negative.

According to DESE, last week, despite elevated positivity rates in K-12 schools, the estimated individual positivity rate was still roughly 1/5 of the statewide positivity rate.

Both DESE and DPH announced today updated school COVID-19 testing options, including providing participating teachers and staff with at-home rapid tests weekly.

Starting this week, schools can opt-in to receive at-home rapid antigen tests for weekly use by all participating staff and students. Schools exercising this option will discontinue contact tracing and Test and Stay. Schools must continue to take part in symptomatic and/or pooled testing in order to take part in the new at-home test program. Delivery of tests for staff deliver during the week of January 24 for staff and January 31 for families who opt-in.

Families will need to inform their school if they want at-home, rapid antigen tests sent home with students. If an individual tests positive at home, they should inform their school of the result. Schools will report positive cases to DESE as part of the weekly COVID-19 reporting already in place.

The state intends these changes to enable school health staff to spend more time and resources identifying symptomatic individuals and focusing on other aspects of COVID-19 management. Other New England states, including Connecticut and Vermont, have recently transitioned from individualized contact tracing to the use of at-home tests and focusing school health efforts on symptomatic testing.

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