Minnesota has announced an expansion of rapid COVID testing in schools. According to Minnesota Public Radio, “The state is making rapid at-home tests available to districts that request them.”
Gov. Tim Walz (D) said that the tests will help immediately diagnose students with COVID. He said, “If we can isolate and find out cases right away, not only can we protect the health of that individual child or staff member, we can keep the building in place without having to isolate the entire building and send folks home.”
They will also be “handing out grant money to districts that want to hire additional staff or need other help with the logistics of regular testing in schools.”
Walz said that “everyone” needs to participate. “We need everyone to participate in this. I need all our school buildings to participate. We know that the buildings are at the forefront of the fight, districts are leading the charge and the state is here to provide all of the guidance and supplies that we need,” he said.
Walz went on to state, “That supply chain is there waiting — we just need to implement that and put it in. We made it clear to the federal government that they are going to have to, and they committed this week to doing so.”
Minnesota’s Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan shared that her elementary-aged daughter has been using the rapid COVID tests already, and wants to ensure that those rapid tests can be made available to other Minnesota students.
“I think families have come to trust their schools and their school health offices, so knowing that your school nurse is saying, ‘You can use this, this is OK, I’m here as a resource if you need help.’ I think for families, that means something to them,” Flanagan said.
A local nurse, Jenny Johnson-Erickson said that this decision surprised her. Johnson-Erickson told The Minnesota Sun that last year, she “went rounds with a school last year with these tests” trying to get a school district to utilize them.
Johnson-Erickson said, “I wanted to use one for someone who has a developmental disability because going in for a test like this is difficult and often traumatic so having people they are comfortable with do it in home would be far less traumatizing and effective.” However, she reported that last year, the school district would not accept rapid testing results.
She told The Sun that in her opinion it was “bizarre” that they are not utilizing them in schools.
Another anonymous parent told The Sun that she would not accept those tests at her children’s school. She said, “Rapid tests aren’t nearly as reliable as the long version. I wouldn’t support systematic rapid testing at my kids’ school.”
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Hayley Tschetter is a reporter with The Minnesota Sun and The Wisconsin Daily Star | Star News Network. Follow Hayley on Twitter or like her Facebook page. Send news tips to [email protected].
Photo “Rapid COVID test” by dronepicr CC BY 2.0.