Coronavirus/COVID-19

Updated COVID-19 Testing Program

On January 18, 2022, DESE, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Public Health announced an update to the COVID-19 Testing Program for districts and schools. Specifically, districts and schools participating in symptomatic and/or pooled testing may choose to continue those testing strategies and discontinue contact tracing and Test and Stay. As an additional resource, districts and schools that elect to make this change will be provided with rapid antigen at-home tests for all participating staff and students that may be used on a weekly basis.

Districts and schools may elect to switch to the updated testing program between January 21 and April 1, 2022 by responding to this brief survey. This district opt-in form is required for any K-12 school or district (public or private) seeking to switch to the updated testing program. Districts and schools that respond affirmatively by January 21 will be prioritized to start the updated program. The at-home antigen tests will be provided on a staggered basis with delivery of tests for staff and students occurring on alternate weeks. Districts that respond by January 21 will begin receiving tests for staff during the week of January 24 and tests for students during the week of January 31. Because at-home tests for staff members and students will be provided in alternating weeks, DESE and EOHHS/DPH will incorporate districts and schools that opt into the updated testing program after January 21 into the existing distribution schedule.

Updated K-12 Testing Options (effective 1/31)
Discontinue contact tracing and Test and Stay <strongly recommended>
Original K-12 Testing Options
Maintain contact tracing and Test and Stay
Symptomatic testing and/or Routine pooled testingYesYes
Test and StayNoYes
Individualized contact tracing for in-school exposuresNot requiredYes
Weekly at-home antigen testing (students and staff)Yes, with initial shipment for participating staff during the week of January 24; initial shipment of at-home tests for participating students during the week of January 31No

Districts and schools that elect to continue with the original K-12 testing options may find materials associated with that program at Original K-12 Testing Program.

Questions can be directed to k12covid19testing@mass.gov .

Updated K-12 Testing Program

At-home Rapid Antigen Testing:

  • At-Home Rapid Testing (to be distributed to participating staff and students, regardless of vaccination status): Shallow nasal swab samples are collected at home on a weekly basis using the iHealth rapid at-home test distributed by DESE.

Diagnostic Testing:

  • Symptomatic Testing: (for when individuals present symptoms while at school; individuals should not go to school if experiencing symptoms while at home): Shallow nasal swab samples are collected at school using the BinaxNOW rapid antigen test or another approved diagnostic test.

Routine COVID Pooled Testing:

Please note, following feedback from families and caregivers, districts are encouraged to use the phrase "routine COVID safety checks" to describe what we previously called "pooled tests" when communicating with families/caregivers.

  • Routine COVID Pooled Testing and School-Based Follow-Up Testing: Shallow nasal swab samples are collected at school and put into a single tube (maximum of 10 samples per tube). If a group tests positive, individual Follow-Up testing with a second sample collection occurs at the school with BinaxNOW and/or individual PCR testing, as necessary.
  • Routine COVID Pooled Testing and Lab-Based Follow-Up Testing: Shallow nasal or saliva samples are collected and kept separate before being grouped at the lab. If a group tests positive, individual Follow-Up testing occurs at the lab, without a second sample collection. Individual test results are reported to the school.

Documents for Schools Participating in the Updated K-12 Testing Program:

All districts and schools that are interested receiving at-home antigen tests must complete the district opt-in survey. Schools and districts that are not already enrolled in either symptomatic and/or pooled testing must complete the updated Authorized School application and upload other required documents. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis. We encourage districts and schools to apply as soon as possible to take full advantage of the state-funded program.

Updated SY22 COVID-19 Testing Program Application for Schools

Letter Templates and Translations for Families

Webinar Recordings and Slides

Additional Documents for BinaxNOW Testing

School Health Trainings

DPH's School Health Unit is hosting train-the-trainer sessions for school nurses and other school health professionals that will be administering the BinaxNOW diagnostic test. The training consists of an approximately 30-minute presentation by Abbott staff, followed by an anterior nasal swabbing demonstration by the MDPH Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences Sr. Public Health Nursing Advisor, and concludes with school nurses performing an anterior nasal swab return demonstration and performing the point of care test with the BinaxNOW card. Additional trainings have been scheduled. To sign up for one of the future trainings, please go to the BU Shield website. (Please note: You may participate only if you have your BinaxNOW kits shipped and on-hand. You will be unregistered if our records show you have not yet been shipped test kits.)

BinaxNOW Resources for Test Administration

Last Updated: April 25, 2022

Contact Us

Parents and guardians questions can be directed to COVID19K12ParentInfo@mass.gov

District and school staff's questions can be directed to: Reopeningk12@mass.gov

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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