The state will provide only one COVID-19 test per school employee, instead of the two originally planned, as supply shortages continue to challenge efforts for a safe return to school, education officials confirmed Saturday.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education notified school superintendents Friday night that the department had received 227,166 tests from two manufacturers, enough to provide one to each teacher and staff member.
The e-mail said that the department’s original test order was delayed “and we worked quickly to find an alternative supply.”
Because each kit contains two tests, school districts “may choose to prioritize student-facing staff or breakdown kits to individual tests,” the e-mail said.
The tests are being provided so teachers and staff can test themselves before returning to school on Monday after winter break. The second test was intended for future use, at the staffer’s discretion.
School employees are not required to test before returning, but they are strongly encouraged to take an at-home antigen test within 24 hours of returning to work.
School districts are picking up the tests — either the iHealth or BinaxNOW versions — at regional distribution sites this weekend. More than 300 of the 400 districts had picked up their tests as of Saturday afternoon, according education department spokeswoman Colleen Quinn.
Felice J. Freyer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @felicejfreyer.