The Arizona Department of Health and Human Services is reaching out to K-12 school districts across the state, working to raise awareness about a free, federally funded COVID testing program that could prevent the spread of COVID-19 once the new school year begins.
The program is still in the early stages and parents would have the option to opt their children in, so it would not be mandatory.
Schools that choose to take part would have access to "batch" or "pool testing" resources to test a specific group of students every week. Those students would administer the tests themselves, the samples would be pooled together and tested, and would only be separated if there is a positive result.
The goal is to identify asymptomatic cases and minimize spread once in-person learning resumes.
The Madison School District tested the program during the spring. K-8 students swabbed their noses every Tuesday morning and the district had results by Wednesday afternoon.
State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman says, "This regular testing will reassure families, especially those with immuno-compromised family members, as students begin to find some normalcy returning to their schools."
The program is funded by federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan.