DESE Announces Weekly At-Home Testing Option For All Mass. Schools

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Updated at 10:50 AM

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Gov. Charlie Baker and the state's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education are announcing a new opt-in program that will supply weekly at-home COVID tests for every staff member and student in participating districts.

School districts can choose to opt into the new at-home test program and students and staff will test themselves once a week. Those that opt-in will need to end their Test-and-Stay program. The program will use the 26 million tests the governor announced last week. Pooled testing and testing symptomatic cases will continue regardless.

Those schools will also "be able" to discontinue their contact tracing program, Gov. Baker said. Schools can begin opting-in to the program next Monday, and tests will be distributed to students starting the week of January 31. Gov. Baker again stressed in-person learning, saying that "this new testing just the latest way we think we can keep kids in school."

Education Commissioner Jeff Riley called the new program a "game changer," saying it would give school nurses "more relief so they can focus on symptomatic cases." The commissioner said the state and districts owed a "huge debt of gratitude" to the nurses.

The officials said schools will be allowed to keep the Test and Stay program if they want, but the Baker Administration is pushing this new alternative. Both Riley and Gov. Baker praised the Test-and-Stay program, saying almost 99% of the tests conducted in the program had come back negative.

The at-home tests will be shipped directly to schools, and students and staff will get a kit of two tests every two weeks.

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