Massachusetts

Mass. Day Care Centers Say New COVID Testing Program Brings Relief

Neighborhood Villages is administering Massachusetts' new COVID-19 testing program at child care centers, which are now eligible to receive free antigen tests in an effort to keep facilities open

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The coronavirus pandemic has hit day care centers especially hard.

"Nobody is happy with the current state of child care, it is incredibly hard to operate a center right now," said Sarah Muncey, co-founder of Neighborhood Villages.

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The organization is administering Massachusetts' new COVID-19 testing program. Starting Monday, day care centers across the commonwealth are eligible to receive free antigen tests.

The tests are meant for child care staff and any child over the age of 2.

"Testing and staying means we can keep our classrooms open," said Christoper Hassapis of Magical Beginnings. "The new program that is coming out relieves some of that stress and strain on families and for staff."

Under current rules, a positive test can close down an entire classroom — a major disruption for students, staff and parents.

"With a test and stay program like the one that is being implemented, we can really revert a lot of that stress and safely operate classrooms in all our schools," Hassapis said.

Natacha Shillingford, program director for the Epiphany School in Boston, agrees.

"It is a program that speaks to my heart," Shillingford said.

The Epiphany School will now expand testing.

"The goal is to keep them here and learning, and testing allows us to do that," she said. "We are happy about it, and I do not know how we would be able to survive without being able to test."

Several facilities said they're still working out logistics of how the new program will work, but remain thrilled at the prospects.

"This means every provider in Massachusetts has access to a multi-prong, multi-layer testing strategy that can really help them operate at this really tough time," Muncey said.

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