BOSTON (NEWS10) – The Baker-Polito Administration announced the launch of a pilot COVID-19 testing program dedicated to providing on-demand PCR testing to child care providers and the families they serve. This will ensure easy access to testing when there is suspected COVID-19 exposure.
The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), in partnership with the Massachusetts Early Childhood Funder Collaborative and BayCoast Bank, will launch an eight week pilot in eight drive-through testing sites throughout the Commonwealth. Members of the Massachusetts Early Childhood Funder Collaborative and BayCoast Bank have committed $450,000 to support the initial eight-week pilot. The sites will only be open to child care providers and individuals affiliated with programs.
With dedicated testing locations and test results provided within 48 hours, the new initiative is an effort to prevent sudden temporary closures of child care programs due to virus exposure. The testing sites are located in Athol, Braintree, Billerica, Dalton, Franklin, Plymouth, Sturbridge and Westfield. These locations were chosen based on distance from a current state-sponsored Stop the Spread testing location and concentration of child care providers.
In addition, EEC is dedicating $8 million in state and federal funds to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) to distribute to child care providers at no cost. Child care providers will be able to order up to a one-month supply of PPE, including masks for children and adults, gloves, hand sanitizer, and other supplies.
Anyone affiliated with a child care program who is symptomatic, identified as a close contact or has concerns about exposure, including all staff and their household members as well as children in care and their families, will be eligible for testing at no cost. Each site will have capacity to test approximately 400 people a day.
Tests will be conducted by medical personnel using a simple anterior nasal swab and will be processed by a CLIA-certified laboratory with results available to individuals via a portal in 48 hours or less.
Those receiving a test will need the EEC provider number of the child care program to verify their eligibility. No appointment is necessary, but pre-registration is highly encouraged.