Revere tries blunting Omicron surge in schools

REVERE, Mass. — Twenty-eight first-graders at the Abraham Lincoln School were the first to receive a special gift from the city’s school department. Each took home a rapid Covid test kit -- a key part of the district’s strategy to meet the looming Omicron threat.

The plan is for all 7,400 students in the district to use the tests 24 hours before school reopens in January and not to return if the test comes back positive.

“We’re worried about Omicron and the uptick,” said Superintendent Dianne Kelly. “It seems to be a lot more contagious than some of the other variants we’ve been dealing with to date.”

To date, Revere’s been dealing with Delta -- and that’s proven challenging enough.

In fact, Kelly said that variant has pretty much pushed the district’s ‘Test to Stay’ program to its limits. Test to Stay allows students who have come into close contact with a positive Covid case to remain in school -- provided they undergo daily rapid testing.

Kelly explained how the ripple effect from one Covid case can be huge.

“If we have twenty positives somewhere across the district, we’re, the next day, testing a hundred, a hundred twenty people using the rapid tests,” she said.

If Omicron lives up to even a fraction of its billing as more contagious, that could significantly increase the Test to Stay burden in Revere -- possibly necessitating the hiring of additional personnel to perform testing.

Revere parents tell Boston 25 News if testing on the back end of the holiday break helps keep students in school in the face of the Omicron threat, they are all for it.

Marissa Lambert is the Mom of a first grader.

“Last year his kindergarten was remote until March,” she said. “And I think it was good. But I think it’s hard for the kids because socially, it’s important for them to be around other kids at this age. That’s such a big part of their development.”

“As a parent, it’s the most important thing in the world,” said Dan Bugarin, father of two elementary-age school kids. “Last year when they had those online classes it was like unbelievable. Very hard on the parents.”

Linda Fillion is Mom to a four-year-old. She said making sure school reopens safely in January is ‘huge.’

“Especially the younger ones, pre-school,” she said. “They already missed out on a couple of years.”

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