ST PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) are announcing new COVID-19 testing recommendations and no-fee testing programs for schools during the upcoming school year, as delta variant cases increase across the country.
MDH is recommending that all unvaccinated students and staff get tested for COVID-19 at least weekly during the upcoming school year, based on current rates of community transmission of the illness. Unvaccinated student athletes or participants in extracurricular activities are encouraged to get tested more often. Vaccinated students and staff are advised to get tested if they're exposed to someone with COVID-19, or if they're experiencing symptoms.
Minnesota schools will be offered individual and pooled PCR testing by swab or saliva, as well as individual rapid antigen testing options. Schools will be able to choose which testing methods will work best for their communities.
“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,” Education Commissioner Dr. Heather Mueller said in a statement. “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.”
MDE will provide grant money to help districts cover the costs of COVID-19 testing in schools.
“Getting people vaccinated as soon as possible is critical for our long-term success against COVID-19,” MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said in a statement. “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.”
More details about testing recommendations and options for schools can be found on the MDH website.