More Than Half Million At Mass. Schools Using At-Home COVID Test Program

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BOSTON (State House News Service) — About 537,000 staff and students from participating public schools and districts have opted into the at-home COVID-19 testing program so far, according to the state education commissioner.

In a memo that's on the agenda for Tuesday's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting, Commissioner Jeff Riley said districts that applied by the "priority deadline" of Jan. 21 received their first set of at-home staff tests during the week of Jan. 24 and received their first set of at-home student tests last week.

Schools that opted for the at-home test are discontinuing contact tracing and test-and-stay protocols, which, based on test positivity rates, indicate that individuals identified as close contacts in school "are very unlikely to contract or spread COVID-19," according to the commissioner's memo.

"The new option enables school health staff to focus more on identifying symptomatic individuals and other aspects of COVID-19 management. Schools must continue to participate in symptomatic and/or pooled testing in order to take part in the new at-home test program," Riley wrote.

A discussion of his memo and steps to help schools and families deal with COVID-19 is the first item on the board's agenda for its 9 a.m. meeting Tuesday in Malden.

In its Feb. 10 report, covering Feb. 3 through Feb. 9, the state said school districts reported 5,634 positive COVID-19 tests among students and 1,089 among staff. 

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