MDH announces new COVID-19 testing options for schools

(ABC 6 News) – Tuesday, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) announced new COVID-19 testing options for schools.

This school year, schools will have access to individual PCR tests, pooled PCR tests and rapid tests—both antigen and molecular (learn more about COVID-19 test types on the MDH website). Districts, charter schools, tribal schools, and nonpublic schools will be able to assess which tests work best for their school community and have autonomy in developing their individual testing program. Offering testing in schools is strongly recommended given the rise in Delta variant cases.

“We must use every available tool to keep our students in classrooms because we know that is best for their well-being and academic success,” said MDE Commissioner Dr. Heather Mueller. “We stand ready to partner with and support our school leaders across the state as they develop local COVID-19 testing plans that keep our students, staff and families healthy and safe.”

Based on current levels of community spread across Minnesota, the CDC and MDH recommend that all unvaccinated school-age children and school staff get tested for COVID-19 at least weekly throughout the school year. Unvaccinated children involved in extracurricular activities or sports should be tested more frequently. Vaccinated students and school staff should get tested if they are experiencing symptoms or were exposed to someone who has COVID-19. Testing should be used in addition to other layered prevention strategies as outlined in Best Practice Recommendations for COVID-19 Prevention in Schools for the 2021-22 School Year (PDF).

“Getting people vaccinated as soon as possible is critical for our long-term success against COVID-19,” MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said. “Meanwhile, for those who are not yet vaccinated, regular screening testing is an important tool to know they are healthy, get the care they need if they are sick, and prevent the spread of the virus to others. Regular testing, along with masking and the other layers of prevention, gives our schools, students, families and educators the best chance of getting the school year off to a successful and healthy start.”

For more information on the state’s school testing recommendations, click here.

To see the state’s Vaccine Connector, click here.