The state of Massachusetts has purchased 200,000 COVID-19 test kits for school staff in the Commonwealth so they can test for the virus before returning to work after the vacation. The Associated Press reported.
The state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced on Wednesday that each employee will be given two tests: one for 24 hours before employees return to work and the second to use at another time whenever he or she wishes would like.
The news comes amid a sharp spike in coronavirus cases in the United States, driven in part by the highly transmissible Omicron variant. The rise in cases has raised concerns among state and federal officials about the safety of students and staff in schools.
The news service reported that in the week that ended December 23, 10,000 cases of the virus were reported by students and employees at public schools in Massachusetts, according to the state.
The Massachusetts public school system has approximately 920,000 students and 140,000 employees, the AP reported.
Massachusetts officials disrupted more than 6 million KN95 masks in schools for employees last week.
“It is vital to do everything possible to ensure that students learn in the classrooms. Making these tests available to teachers and staff is one more thing we can do to make sure it can be done, “Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley said in a statement, reported AP.
At the college level, schools in Massachusetts have introduced new requirements to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The University of Massachusetts school system has demanded that its thousands of students, staff and faculty all receive their COVID-19 vaccinations.
Previously, the higher education system required students and faculty to be vaccinated, and this was almost 100 percent adhered to. The high vaccination rate led to coronavirus positivity below the national average, according to the AP.