Officials planning to expand test-and-stay to child care

Coronavirus Local Impact

BOSTON (SHNS) – State education officials hope in the coming weeks to launch a version of their public school test-and-stay program for child care centers around the state in an effort to keep more children and educators in schools as exposures to COVID-19 increase.

The Executive Office of Education confirmed the plans to develop a program for child care on Thursday, indicating that officials were working on strategies to secure an adequate supply of tests and means to distribute those supplies to the thousands of day-care centers that may wish to participate.

The Boston Globe first reported the test-and-stay expansion on Wednesday, and officials said they hope to announce more details in the coming weeks. The test-and-stay program for K-12 public schools allows teachers and students who may have been exposed to COVID-19 to stay in the classroom as long as they continue to test negative for the virus daily.

With cases of COVID-19 reaching new highs and child care being a lifeline for working parents, the expansion of test-and-stay could allow more centers to avoid unnecessary staff absences and stay open amid a surge that has prompted some to change their health screening and stay-at-home policies for children.

The Baker administration said the Department of Early Education and Care currently has a supply of 23,000 rapid at-home antigen tests that child care centers can sign up to receive and expect that supply to increase to 40,000 by the end of the week. The tests are being distributed in partnership with Neighborhood Villages, an early child care advocacy group that has also been running a state-funded pooled testing program for child care centers since last year.

Education officials said that so far more than 2,100 child care programs have signed up to receive rapid tests from the state, and EEC is working to find a way to provide access to tests for every child care staff member. Additionally, eight sites around the state are open for child care provider staff, students and families to be tested. 

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