Colorado will make up to a million rapid COVID-19 tests a month available to school districts, charter schools, and private schools as part of its effort to get students back to the classroom and keep them there.
Gov. Jared Polis announced the initiative Wednesday. Expanded testing capacity for school districts was one of the recommendations of a back-to-school task force in December. Ideally every teacher and school staff member would be tested twice a week, according to Tom Gonzales, the head of Larimer County Public Health and a member of the task force.
The hope is that by identifying positive cases more quickly, those people can isolate before they expose many others. That would reduce the number of people who have to quarantine, as well as reduce the risk of transmission.
“Appropriately timed rapid testing of individuals who have been exposed to probable or confirmed cases of COVID-19 can identify secondary disease transmission and shorten quarantine periods,” state public health officials wrote in a letter to school superintendents Wednesday morning. “Exposed individuals are more likely to test positive than people who have not been exposed. Identifying these individuals before they have symptoms will have a substantial effect in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the school community.”
The BINAXNow tests from Abbott Laboratories can be used at home or at school and provide results within 15 minutes. The home version of the BINAXNow test received emergency approval in mid-December.