New at-home COVID-19 testing program announced for Massachusetts students and staff

Massachusetts officials on Tuesday announced updated COVID-19 testing options in schools, including weekly at-home rapid tests, to optimize in-person learning as new data on group testing and Testing programs and Stay show very few positive cases and low transmission rates. The Department of Primary and Secondary Education and the Department of Public Health said that from this week schools will be able to register to receive rapid home antigen tests for weekly use by all staff and schoolchildren. participating students. Schools exercising this option will discontinue contact tracing and participation in the Test and Stay program. Officials said the move will allow school health staff to devote more time and resources to identifying symptomatic people and focus on other aspects of managing COVID-19. Schools must continue to participate in symptomatic and/or cluster testing in order to participate in the new home testing program, officials said. Schools will be able to start enrolling in the program this week for staff and will receive tests during the week of January 24. Schools will receive tests for students whose families enroll during the week of January 31. the tests will be shipped directly to school districts for distribution and are packaged in kits containing two tests. Students and staff who participate will receive a kit every two weeks to test themselves. Families will need to let their schools know if they want rapid home antigen tests sent home with students. If a person tests positive at home, they should inform their school of the result. Schools will report positive cases to DESE as part of the weekly COVID-19 report already in place. and which will be delivered within the next three months. K-12 schools and daycares will be prioritized for these tests. Education officials also said data collected from more than 2,000 public and private schools participating in the Test and Stay program shows very few positive cases and low rates of transmission. Students and staff are individually identified as asymptomatic close contacts and repeatedly tested at school via Test and Stay test negative. more than 90% of the time. As of January 9, 503,312 test-and-stay tests have been completed; 496,440 of them were negative (almost 99%). Data from K-12 cluster testing is equally strong, indicating the school is safe, officials said. The data reveals that individual positivity rates are significantly lower than statewide positivity rates. Last week, despite high positivity rates in K-12 schools, the estimated individual positivity rate was still about one-fifth the statewide positivity rate. “Massachusetts’ first and most comprehensive school screening program has reinforced that our schools remain safe places for students, teachers, and faculty,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “Data from the Test and Stay program revealed extremely low rates of secondary transmission, showing that close contacts very rarely test positive.”

Massachusetts officials on Tuesday announced updated COVID-19 testing options in schools, including weekly at-home rapid tests, to optimize in-person learning as new data on group testing and Testing programs and Stay show very few positive cases and low transmission rates.

The Department of Primary and Secondary Education and the Department of Public Health said that from this week schools will be able to register to receive rapid home antigen tests for weekly use by all staff and schoolchildren. participating students.

Schools exercising this option will discontinue contact tracing and participation in the Test and Stay program.

Officials said the move will allow school health staff to devote more time and resources to identifying symptomatic people and focus on other aspects of managing COVID-19.

Schools must continue to participate in symptomatic and/or cluster testing in order to participate in the new home testing program, officials said.

Schools will be able to start enrolling in the program this week for staff and will receive tests during the week of January 24. Schools will receive tests for students whose families enroll during the week of January 31.

The home tests will be shipped directly to school districts for distribution and are packaged in kits containing two tests.

Students and staff who participate will receive a kit every two weeks to test themselves. Families will need to let their schools know if they want rapid home antigen tests sent home with students. If a person tests positive at home, they should inform their school of the result. Schools will report positive cases to DESE as part of the weekly COVID-19 report already in place.

Testing for this program will come from the supply of 26 million rapid tests, antigen tests that the Baker-Polito administration announced last week that it has ordered from iHealth and will be delivered over the next three months. K-12 schools and daycares will be prioritized for these tests.

Education officials also said data collected from more than 2,000 public and private schools participating in the Test and Stay program shows very few positive cases and low rates of transmission.

Students and staff have been individually identified as asymptomatic close contacts and have been repeatedly tested at school via the Test and Stay negative test more than 90% of the time. As of January 9, 503,312 test-and-stay tests have been completed; 496,440 of them were negative (nearly 99%).

Data from K-12 cluster testing is equally strong, indicating the school is safe, officials said. The data reveals that individual positivity rates are significantly lower than statewide positivity rates. Last week, despite high positivity rates in K-12 schools, the estimated individual positivity rate was still about one-fifth the statewide positivity rate.

“Massachusetts’ first and most comprehensive school screening program in the nation has reinforced that our schools remain safe places for students, teachers, and faculty,” said Marylou Sudders, Secretary of Health and Human Services. . “Data from the Test and Stay program revealed extremely low rates of secondary transmission, showing that close contacts very rarely test positive.”

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