Saturday, May 28th, 2022

The initiative also targets federally backed testing

ACROSS AMERICA — The Biden administration said Wednesday it will provide 10 million free COVID-19 tests a month to U.S. schools to keep classes in person amid the omicron variant surge.

The tests — 5 million rapid tests and 5 million lab-based PCR tests — will be available to schools starting this month. The increased federal support for testing is in addition to the more than $10 billion devoted to school-based testing and $130 billion in other efforts to keep kids in the classroom, both authorized in the COVID-19 relief law.

President Joe Biden has pushed schools to remain open, citing the academic and social-emotional costs of remote learning. But he has faced mounting criticism over testing shortages as America’s 50 million school children and educators returned to the classroom.

The White House said 96 percent of schools opened for in-person learning after the holiday break, compared with 46 percent in January 2021. Without adequate testing, critics have said, schools become superspreader settings.

Here’s what the new test initiative means :

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One goal of the initiative is to close gaps in areas where testing is uneven or nonexistent. States must submit requests to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the additional 5 million free rapid tests per month for high-need districts that can put the tests to immediate use. The first shipments will arrive later this month, according to the White House.
The administration said it is immediately expanding lab capacity to support an additional 5 million lab-based PCR tests each month — which will be delivered through Department of Health and Human Services programs funded by coronavirus relief programs.
The initiative also targets federally backed testing sites to support school testing programs, including basing Federal Emergency Management Agency sites in schools. Also, the CDC is expected to release new “test-to-stay” guidance this week that allows the use of testing so close contacts of anyone who tested positive for the coronavirus can stay in classrooms.

 

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