Middletown Public Schools is the first district in the state to offer free, rapid COVID-19 testing for students and staff. Governor Lamont today said he hopes other districts will also be able to offer rapid testing soon.
“From the outset, CEA has been advocating for testing to ensure the health and safety of students, teachers, and their families,” says CEA President Jeff Leake. “CEA’s Safe Learning Plan, released in July, outlines a number of recommendations—including regular COVID testing—needed to keep our school communities safe.”
The rapid tests give results in approximately 15 minutes, allowing a student or staff member who is positive to quickly be sent home before infecting others.
“Research has confirmed that regular testing of students for COVID-19 is important for identifying, controlling, and limiting the spread of the virus,” says Leake. “But we must also ensure other safety measures and CDC guidelines and protocols are being followed in our schools, including six feet of social distancing at all times, proper ventilation, and continued cleaning. In cases where outbreaks occur or when those safety criteria cannot be met, schools should move to all distance learning to mitigate the spread of the virus.”
CEA Executive Director Don Williams says that, in addition to testing students and staff who present with symptoms, it would be worthwhile for schools to have some form of random testing. “Many students who get COVID are asymptomatic and not demonstrating symptoms, and yet they can spread the virus.”
Connecticut has seen a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, and the governor has taken additional steps to mitigate the spread and tighten restrictions, including rolling back reopening plans to allow only 50% capacity in venues such as restaurants.
“We know the governor and education commissioner care deeply about Connecticut families, and that is why when safety is defined as half-capacity or less in our state’s indoor spaces, school communities must be a part of that equation, not an exception to the rule,” says Leake. “Our students and teachers deserve to be protected to the same degree as all Connecticut residents.”