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Day care programs expand COVID testing, aim to stay open

January 19, 2022 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — Licensed day care programs in Massachusetts can sign up to begin receiving free rapid antigen COVID-19 tests by the first week of February, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Wednesday.

Staff and children two years and older who, as a group, had direct exposure to an individual who is positive for COVID-19 can test daily for five consecutive days with the rapid tests. They can remain in the child care setting as long as they test negative, rather than requiring individuals to quarantine.

The governor’s office said the new testing program is designed to protect children and educators in child care centers and keep early education programs open. Child care programs can begin receiving the tests by the week of Jan. 31.

The initiative also allows staff and children 2 years and older who develop symptoms while attending or providing care to participate in a symptomatic testing program. The goal is to allow day care centers to quickly identify and isolate positive cases or confirm negative cases.

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Baker, a Republican, made the announcement Wednesday at a Boston early learning center, saying the testing initiatives are designed “to ensure children can safely continue learning and receiving quality care while parents are working.”

The announcement comes a day after the governor said the state will make millions of rapid coronavirus test kits available to schools so staff and students can test themselves weekly at home, and schools can stay open for in-person instruction.

Baker said the new testing initiative is in addition to the state’s existing pool testing program.

In pooled testing, samples from multiple people are tested together. If the pool tests negative, all the individuals in the pool are negative. If the pool tests positive, individual samples are retested to see which person tested positive.