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DESE distributing 200,000 COVID-19 rapid tests to schools

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced it will send 200,000 at-home rapid antigen tests to school districts so all teachers and staff across the Commonwealth can test for COVID-19 before they return to school after the holiday break.

Every school district will receive enough tests to distribute two tests to all school staff. DESE strongly encourages all school personnel take one of the at-home antigen tests no more than 24 hours before they return to work to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Staff should notify school officials in their district if they test positive. The second test can be used later at an individual’s discretion. Staff are not required to test before returning to work.

The department was able to secure the large supply of rapid antigen tests this week from an out-of-state vendor and expects the shipment to arrive in Massachusetts by tomorrow, December 30. The tests will then be distributed to regional locations where school districts can pick them up and distribute to staff this weekend. DESE will provide additional details to superintendents soon about where to pick up the tests. The department is spending approximately $5.6 million for the tests using federal ESSER funds.

“DESE staff worked very hard to secure these at-home rapid antigen tests for schools and we are all grateful for their efforts and hard work to help schools during this difficult time,” said Education Secretary James Peyser. “We all remain committed to keeping schools open despite the recent uptick in COVID cases.”

“Doing everything we can to keep students learning in classrooms is critical. Providing these tests to teachers and staff is one more thing we can do to ensure that is possible,” said Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley.

Last week, DESE distributed more than six million KN95 masks to schools to provide one mask per day for all public school teachers and staff, including bus drivers, to wear when school reopens in January.

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