About 5 million free rapid tests and 5 million free PCR tests will go to schools each month.
“These additional tests will help schools safely remain open and implement screening testing and test to stay programs,” according to a statement issued by the White House.
“With the additional ten million tests per month, we will make available to schools more than double the volume of testing that took place in schools across the nation in November 2021,” the statement said.
For the free rapid tests, the CDC will work with states to submit requests for “high-need school districts that can put these tests immediately to use,” according to the announcement. After states submit their requests, the first shipments will be delivered later this month.
For the free PCR tests, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will deliver testing materials, supplies, and lab results through four regional lab hubs. Schools can gain access to the free lab-based testing right away, the announcement said.
The announcement comes as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations reach record highs across the country. Public health experts have called for expanded COVID-19 testing in schools to reach America’s more than 50 million K-12 students, according to CNN. The CDC recommends screening at least once per week when community transmission reaches moderate levels.
This week, some cities and school districts have taken actions to slow the spread of the Omicron variant. Several Atlanta-area districts are delaying in-person classes and starting the year with remote learning, CNN reported.
“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 statement said.