There is some good news when it comes to COVID & schools this fall. Testing kids for COVID will be much easier this fall partly because of the American Rescue Plan Act.
During the previous fall and spring semesters, there was some testing capacity at schools, but it wasn’t adequate to really do good testing and surveillance. That will change for two reasons this fall.
Number one is that the American Rescue Plan Act provides significant dollars to the state and county health departments so they can purchase tests to give to schools. Number two is that there’s a new rapid (antigen) test which has been given FDA Authorization that makes it much easier for schools to use.
Last semester, schools generally needed to partner with a community lab that is CLIA certified to do on-site testing. The availability of the new Over-the-Counter BinaxNOW Rapid COVID-19 Test means that schools will no longer need to partner with a lab. On top of that, the Rescue Plan Act provides more than enough money for the state and counties to buy the test kits.
And that’s exactly what the state and many county health departments are doing… buying these at-home testing kits and making them available to schools.
Schools will have the ability to use the kits in ways they prefer. They could, for example, have tests available in the nurses or administrative offices and could do on-site testing (with parental consent of course). Alternatively, they may choose to send a kid home with the rapid test kit and ask the parent to do the testing.
In any event, it’s not all bad news at schools despite the poor decisions that have been made by the governor and state health director. Testing will be much more widely available this fall, and schools will have more tools to identify kids with COVID.