State plans to send weekly at-home tests for students, school staff enrolled in testing program

BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Department of Public Health announced Tuesday morning that they will be updating the school COVID-19 testing options.

These include options to provide participating teachers, staff, and students with at-home rapid tests weekly to optimize in-person learning.

Starting this week, schools will have the opportunity to sign up 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 and instead will enable school students to identify symptomatic individuals and focus on other aspects of COVID-19 management, state officials say.

Schools will need to continue to participate in symptomatic and/or pooled testing to take part in the new at-home test program, according to DESE and DPH.

Schools will have the option to start opting-in to the program this week for staff members and receive tests during the week of Jan. 24. Students whose families opt-in will receive tests during the week of Jan. 31.

Tests will be shopped directly to schools districts and will be packaged in kits that contain two tests. Those who end up participating will receive one kit every two weeks to test themselves. Families will need to inform their schools if they want at-home rapid antigen tests sent home with students.

If the individual tests positive for COVID, 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 test program will be supplied by 26 million at-home rapid antigen tests the Baker-Polito Administration announced last week it ordered from iHealth. It will be delivered over the next three months. K-12 schools and child care centers will be prioritized for those tests.

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