BOSTON (WPRI) — Next month, some Massachusetts students and school staff will be able to get rapid COVID-19 tests, but only if their school is offering some form of in-person learning.

The state is set to begin a COVID-19 rapid test program that will allow students and staff to be tested if they are showing symptoms. They will receive 2 million Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card Point of Care (POC) SARS-CoV-2 rapid diagnostic tests for the program.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the tests will be used in “priority settings including but not limited to public districts, charter schools, educational collaboratives, and approved special education schools.”

Dighton-Rehoboth, Freetown-Lakeville, New Bedford, North Attleboro and Swansea are among some of the districts chosen to participate in Phase 1 of the program.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) wants the program to expand quickly to allow for regular testing in all schools.

Merrie Najimy, President of the MTA, says the program is a step in the right direction, but still not enough.

“The governor’s measures are reactive, we are calling for proactive frequent measures including testing asymptomatic people so that we can catch the virus before it goes out of control,” Najimy said.

According to DESE protocol, close contacts of those with a positive COVID-19 case should be tested. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) defines close contact as:

  • Being within 6 feet of COVID-19 case (someone who has tested positive) for at least 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on) while not wearing recommended personal protective equipment.

The program requires parents to give permission for their child to be tested.