HomeEducationEducation ResourcesFree COVID tests headed to nation's schools | KQED

Free COVID tests headed to nation’s schools | KQED

Many schools have relaxed their COVID policies and how they handle testing for the virus since the height of the pandemic, but O’Connell says there still appears to be plenty of demand for testing in schools.

“We are optimistic that the school districts across the country will take advantage of these free tests and put them to use,” she says.

No restrictions on how schools use the tests

Schools will have the freedom to use the tests however they see fit. O’Connell says they’ll “encourage” school districts to share them with students, staff, family members and others in the community.

“I can imagine a situation where a student in one of the classes has COVID and a teacher sends everybody home with a COVID test in their backpack,” she says.

The initiative reflects the federal government’s effort to expand testing in community settings, even as some polling suggests the public is less apt to test and take precautions around the virus. A recent survey by the nonprofit KFF found half of adults aren’t taking any precautions against COVID this fall and winter. Among those who are only 18% said they are taking a COVID test before visiting with family or friends.

Currently, about 4 million free tests are being distributed to long-term care facilities, food banks and community health centers. The federal government also announced that each household in the U.S. can order an additional four free at-home tests on top of the four made available earlier this fall.

We don’t want anyone’s ability to pay for the test to be an obstacle,” O’Connell says.

The school initiative is expected to last through the winter months. The only condition on order volume will be that schools request as many tests as they can use in a given week.

Current tests still detect key variants

Even with new omicron variants in circulation, rapid antigen tests are still holding up well, says Nate Hafer, a professor of molecular medicine at UMass Chan Medical School who has studied how rapid tests performed in identifying infections with delta and omicron variants.

“These tests are able to detect the variants that are circulating out in the world today,” says Hafer.

Rapid antigen tests work best when people already have symptoms. Even if someone is infected, they may test negative during the early stages of the infection, he says.

“If you are negative, but you have symptoms or if you’ve been exposed to somebody that you know has SARS-CoV-2, test again 48 hours later,” says Hafer. “Testing multiple times is really the best way to be most sure about whether or not that you were infected.”

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
Rizwan Ahmed
Rizwan Ahmed
AuditStudent.com, founded by Rizwan Ahmed, is an educational platform dedicated to empowering students and professionals in the all fields of life. Discover comprehensive resources and expert guidance to excel in the dynamic education industry.


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