Nov. 30, 2023 -- The federal government will send millions of free COVID-19 tests to schools across the country, officials announced this week.
School districts can give the tests for free to students, staff, parents, and communities, says a press release from the U.S. Department of Education. Schools will be able to stock nurses’ offices, give out the tests at events, and send them home with students or parents.
“The Biden-Harris Administration remains a committed partner with schools in keeping our students and teachers safe and healthy,” said Education Department assistant secretary Roberto Rodriguez. "These self-tests are easy to use and can play an important role in preventing the spread of COVID-19. We encourage schools to make use of these free resources to safeguard students, parents, and staff throughout the 2023-24 school year.”
Axios reported a “sluggish” uptake of updated COVID vaccines, “making other precautions like timely testing all the more critical” as respiratory virus season kicks in.
The Department of Health and Human Services has hundreds of millions of tests stockpiled. HHS officials did not put a limit on the number of tests schools can order.
"I could imagine a situation where perhaps a fifth-grade classroom, it has a COVID-positive student and then they send everyone home with a COVID test in the backpack from that fifth-grade class," said Dawn O'Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response.
The administration recently restarted a program that lets people order free, at-home COVID tests that are delivered through the U.S. Postal Service.