Federal government to send millions of free rapid COVID-19 tests to schools

The White House announced Wednesday that it will be sending additional COVID-19 tests to U.S. schools each month, according to an announcement from the Biden administration.

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The administration will increase the number of COVID tests available to schools by 10 million per month — 5 million rapid tests and 5 million lab-based PCR tests.

The tests, which will be free, will be administered through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC will help schools submit requests for additional tests.

The shipments of additional tests will go out before the end of January, according to the White House.

“Students have sacrificed so much over the course of the pandemic, and the President has been clear in his words and his actions that his Administration will do all that it can to keep schools safely open for all students,” the White House said in a fact sheet outlining the testing plan. “We know how to keep students and staff safely in school—including through vaccinations and boosters, implementing universal indoor masking, maintaining physical distancing, improving ventilation, and performing COVID-19 screening testing.”

The Administration is making available lab capacity nationwide to support the additional 5 million PCR tests per month. This will allow schools to perform individual and pooled testing in classrooms.

Schools can get the additional PCR tests by submitting requests to three federally-funded regional providers. Those providers will offer testing materials, supplies, and lab results through four regional hubs. A PCR test looks for the genetic material of a virus such as COVID-19.

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