California Schools Are Sending Students And Staff Members Home with COVID-19 Tests For The Holidays

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at home covid tests for students and staff schools
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With surges in COVID cases around the country, some California school districts are providing students and staff with free testing kits in the hopes of curbing a January spike

In a just world, we would all have easy access to free COVID-19 at-home antigen tests. There have been COVID surges across the globe, and holiday travel and gatherings all-but-guarantee another spike post-holidays. Some school districts in California are hoping to ease the burden of testing and sending all of their staff and students home with at-home antigen-detecting kits. The school systems include Marin County Schools and San Diego Unified School District in California, Chicago Public Schools, and throughout smaller communities in Massachusetts.

The Marin County Schools has distributed tests throughout the year, including right before Thanksgiving, which Superintendent Mary Jane Burke feels has been a successful strategy to keep COVID cases as low as possible. “It’s been good for us as a strategy, so then it makes everyone feel comfortable, and you get the information right away as opposed to waiting for a PCR test, where people are out of school, and our goal has been to keep kids in school,” Burke said.

Chicago and Massachusetts are distributing tests to their most vulnerable populations and school districts

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is distributing roughly 150,000 tests to students. They are also having the students take the test on the same day, December 28. CPS CEO Pedro Martinez explained the strategy, saying, “Research shows us that most of the COVID cases we see in CPS are not because of in-school spread. They are due to social situations like playdates and family gatherings that have fewer protections in place than our schools. We know that families will be gathering for the holidays, so we are providing these tests to our students who may be at most risk, so we can reduce the spread of COVID and protect our school communities.”

Families who are not receiving a free test are still being encouraged to get testing before returning to school in January.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker identified 102 cities and towns in the state that are most at-risk for COVID spread. These cities received an allotted amount of free tests, depending on the city’s population.

“These tests will be especially helpful as we head into the holiday season. People can use them to check for the virus that they can safely gather with family and friends,” Baker said.Hopefully, these programs are able to continue growing for communities and school districts across the country. The CDC has endorsed regular testing in schools as a means to minimize spread and keep kids healthy. “Regular, surveillance testing of asymptomatic individuals is an important layer of protection. Vaccination and testing is enough to replace the need for masking,” Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, told CNN.

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