The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has recommended that school aged children test at least weekly for COVID. Local districts can choose to take part in the program offering on-site testing at elementary schools and receive a grant to fund it.
The announcement stated, “Unvaccinated children involved in extracurricular activities or sports should be tested more frequently.” However, the children that are vaccinated do not need to be tested unless they are experiencing symptoms of COVID or if they were exposed to someone who has tested positive.
MDH says its tests help keep kids in school. Its website states that the testing is necessary because:
- Regular testing is the best way for people to know they are healthy, get the care they need and prevent the spread of the virus to others.
- Testing helps reduce community spread and keeps students in their classrooms.
- Testing in schools helps ensure convenient and equitable access.
- Testing supports schools in providing healthy, safe learning environments.
Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Heather Mueller said, “We must use every available tool to keep our students in classrooms because we know that is best for their well-being and academic success. We stand ready to partner with and support our school leaders across the state as they develop local COVID-19 testing plans that keep our students, staff and families healthy and safe.”
According to the Minnesota Department of Health website, the grants are eligible for any type of school offering the testing program. “Every school district, charter school, tribal school and nonpublic school offering a testing program is eligible for a grant. Grant money can be used to fund staff to support, administer, or execute testing, or to purchase tests through a vendor.”
According to the MDH website regarding student testing, the goals of the program are to:
- Keep Minnesota’s students in their classrooms.
- Ensure the health and safety of all students, educators, and school staff.
- Decrease community spread and increase school safety.
- Increase access to testing for all.
- Provide schools with local control to institute a testing program that meets the needs of their students and families.
Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm also emphasized the alleged need for increased testing and pushed students and families to get vaccinated. Malcolm said, “Getting people vaccinated as soon as possible is critical for our long-term success against COVID-19. Meanwhile, for those who are not yet vaccinated, regular screening testing is an important tool to know they are healthy, get the care they need if they are sick, and prevent the spread of the virus to others. Regular testing, along with masking and the other layers of prevention, gives our schools, students, families and educators the best chance of getting the school year off to a successful and healthy start.”
The MDH is also seeking to make access to testing more “equitable.”
“Testing at school makes access to tests more equitable, which is one of the many reasons the State of Minnesota encourages all schools to create their own testing program and have helped provide the resources to do so,” the MDH said.
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