Baker: Child care programs able to receive rapid COVID-19 tests by January 31

BOSTON — Governor Charlie Baker announced Wednesday that child care programs will receive rapid antigen COVID-19 tests by the week of January 31.

In a statement, the Baker administration said “It’s part of a new testing programs to keep children in child care and early education programs open in the Commonwealth.”

According to the administration, this is “a first-in-the-nation statewide testing initiative that will allow staff and children 2 years and older, who are close contacts of a COVID positive individual, to test daily for five consecutive days with rapid antigen tests and remain in the child care setting as long as the test is negative.”

Staff and children age 2 or older who develop symptoms while attending or providing care will be eligible to participate in a symptomatic program.

The so-called “Testing for Child Care” initiative will provide all child care programs affiliated with the Department of Early Education and Care “access to sign up for free COVID-19 tests, resources, and training to implement these new protocols. "

“This comprehensive testing program is designed to ensure children can safely continue learning and receiving quality care while parents are working,” said Baker. “Child care is a key piece of the infrastructure supporting the Commonwealth’s economy, and this testing program will help to eliminate one of the challenges parents and employers face every day.”

The administration says child care providers can opt into any or all three of the programs:

-Rapid Cohort Testing: Testing staff and children over 2 years old in a group (cohort) where there was direct exposure to an individual who is positive for COVID-19. This option tests cohorts of direct contacts (e.g., single classroom or stable family child care attendance), rather than requiring individuals to quarantine.

-Symptomatic Rapid Antigen Testing: Testing for staff and children over 2 years old who show symptoms related to COVID-19. This allows child care centers to quickly identify and isolate positive cases or confirm negative cases and keep children in care.

-Weekly Pooled Testing: Weekly PCR testing for all consenting staff and children over 3 years old.

EEC is working with “Neighborhood Villages,” which will deliver free rapid tests directly to child care programs that sign up with Neighborhood Villages.

“Distribution of free rapid antigen tests to programs enrolled with Neighborhood Villages is expected to begin the week of January 31,” according to the statement from the Baker administration.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

Download the FREE Boston 25 News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Boston 25 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch Boston 25 News NOW