Massachusetts will roll out a new rapid coronavirus testing program at eligible schools next month, as Gov. Charlie Baker's administration attempts to keep in-person learning available amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.
The program, announced by health officials Wednesday, will kick off in early December in 134 schools that already have some form of in-person learning. A parent or guardian's consent will be required prior to administering any tests.
These schools have been identified by the state as eligible for the program.
The rapid test kits will be provided to the districts at no cost. If a student starts showing any symptoms of illness, they can be given the test which produces a result in about 15 minutes.
"This test allows anyone with an onset of symptoms at school to be rapidly tested and we can find out those results in minutes," Education Commisioner Jeff Riley said.
If the test indicates the student has been exposed to the coronavirus, they can be sent home and advised to take a more exact test to confirm that they have COVID-19.
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The test is said to be 79% effective in children and 97% effective in adults.
Parents will have to sign off before their child is tested, officials said.
"Oh definitely. I would love to know, that way I could help them get treated quickly and try to get them taken care of," one parent said Wednesday. "It would be nice to know the reliability of them."