School districts must pick up COVID-19 testing kits from state

Hampden County

AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – Schools are set to resume classes after New Years on Monday, and school districts are working to get staff tested before their return. Agawam wants their teachers to have the peace of mind of being negative before interacting again with students.

With COVID-19 cases surging this holiday season, DESE has decided to distribute 200,000 rapid at-home testing kits to school districts, enough to provide two for each employee. The hope is that they use it before returning to the classroom.

Agawam’s Mayor Bill Sapelli told 22News, “People have been traveling the last 10 to 12 days, school staff, they have been gathering with relatives. The fact they will have the option to take these tests would be very helpful.”

With winter break ending this coming Monday, schools are running out of time to get their staff tested before they return. The mayor told 22News they have to go to the eastern side of the state to get these at-home test kits.

“The issue you brought up is that they’re distributing but not really distributing them. They’re sending them to a center in Franklin, Massachusetts. So we have to send a courier tomorrow to pick them up and bring them back tomorrow,” said Sapelli.

Sapelli added that Agawam is not one of the 102 high-need communities that will be getting rapid COVID-19 test kits for residents. Those communities, including Springfield, have the highest percentage of families below the poverty level. The state didn’t say how long it would take for those kits to arrive once ordered.

Also in Westfield, their superintendent released a statement citing staffing struggles due to COVID-19, and that may cause them to use an emergency closure day in the new year if they don’t have the staff to keep students safe.

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