Early education advocates ask for access to rapid testing program

Early education advocates ask for access to rapid testing program

BOSTON — Early education advocates are asking Gov. Charlie Baker to include their sector in a rapid-testing program being rolled out in K-12 schools. The Early Education for All campaign wrote a letter Monday to Baker, saying its members have been advocating for improved early education testing measures but that child care providers’ requests “have gone largely unanswered.”

The letter, signed by campaign director Amy O’Leary, asks that future phases of the rapid-testing program -- which involves Abbott BinaxNOW tests sent to Massachusetts by the federal government -- include early education and care providers who are able to meet the program’s criteria.

“The staff working in EEC-licensed programs need access to rapid testing and results in order for programs to remain sustainable and open,” O’Leary wrote. “Early education and care providers face overwhelming staffing challenges every day due to insufficient testing protocols. The inconsistency in test result time is devastating to programs that are struggling to remain open and families who need care to return to work.”

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Education Secretary James Peyser has said he expects distribution of the first set of BinaxNOW tests to the initial group of 134 school districts to begin in early December. Describing the way the test works Tuesday, Baker said it “costs five bucks, was deemed to be enormously accurate when put up against a PCR test” and “takes a huge part of the logistical challenge out of this.”

“It’s not a deep swab. It’s a five-times-around-each-nostril swab,” Baker said. “And then you basically take it, you put it into a sleeve that’s in the device, the sort of little booklet that the test comes in, you close the book, and then you wait, and the result shows up on the backside and you either get a pink line or a black line depending upon whether you’re positive or negative.”

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