Distributing rapid tests to families of schoolchildren was the focus of Vermont Gov. Phil Scott’s weekly COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday.
The Republican noted that there were long lines and tens of thousands of rapid tests handed out to Vermonters the week before Christmas. But Scott saw many people unable to get the antigen tests before the state ran out.
“We’re doing our best with what we have until the federal supply chain starts flowing,” Scott said. “We recently received a delivery of these tests. And while the majority are destined for schools and long-term care facilities, we are getting all the excess rapid tests as quickly as possible. We hope that the supply will increase and with “It has greater accessibility. We have been working with federal partners for weeks on an initiative to distribute tests directly to households and hope to provide you with the final details soon.”
Social Services Agency secretary Mike Smith said as the state receives more tests it will get them to Vermont as quickly as possible. In the meantime, he said a priority is getting parents to take rapid tests before children return to school after the holidays.
“The state will provide rapid take-home antigen testing for families with children,” Smith said. “These tests will be distributed statewide and available for kindergarten up to 12 students. I want to be clear. These tests are not meant to be mandatory for returning students. But they provide families the opportunity to test their children before they return to school after winter break and we urge families to take advantage of these tests.
The state has expanded a Test to Stay program in schools and Education Secretary Dan French has said the new distribution initiative is a logical extension of their testing efforts.
“We have made steady progress on the expansion of Test to Stay and the use of antigen testing,” French said. “You know, before the holidays we had added public pre-K to that. We see the greater availability of antigen testing as a key strategy. But I hope that by mid-January we will start to do so. a change where schools act more as test distribution centers, so when students are identified through contact tracing process etc., schools would provide an easy way to distribute tests to students and families. Again, this will be a key strategy to contain the Omicron variant. ”
About 80,000 test kits are expected to be available to parents over the next week.