DESE sending 200,000 COVID-19 rapid tests to schools

BOSTON — On Wednesday, the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced it will be sending 200,000 at-home rapid antigen tests to school districts so all teachers and staff across the Commonwealth.

State school officials say this will allow teachers and staff to have the ability to test for COVID-19 before they return to school after the holiday break.

“DESE staff worked very hard to secure these at-home rapid antigen tests for schools, and we are all grateful for their efforts and hard work to help schools during this difficult time,” said Education Secretary James Peyser. “We all remain committed to keeping schools open despite the recent uptick in COVID cases.”

DESE continued in the report saying every school district will have enough tests to distribute two tests to all school staff members. DESE recommends that all school personnel take one of the at-home antigen tests no more than 24 hours before they return to work to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and that staff members should notify school officials in their district if they test positive. The second test can be used later at an individual’s discretion.

It added that staff members are not required to test before returning to work.

“Doing everything we can to keep students learning in classrooms is critical. Providing these tests to teachers and staff is one more thing we can do to ensure that is possible,” said Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley.

The tests will be distributed to regional locations where school districts can pick them up and distribute them to staff this weekend. Additional details will be released by DESE to superintendents momentarily about where they can pick up the tests. The department is spending approximately $5.6 million for the tests using federal ESSER funds, DESE says.

Last week, DESE distributed more than six million KN95 masks to schools to provide one mask per day for all public school teachers and staff to wear when school reopens in January.

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