Rapid test kits need to be distributed to students weekly

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Mina Graham

While COVID-19 cases rise in-person learning continues, getting tested frequently is a necessity.

Giving out a free rapid test kit to all students was a great idea. One could even say it was an amazing idea. However, it would be senseless to not give out tests every week.

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) gave free COVID-19 rapid tests to all students after returning from winter break. Though this is a good thing, students need to be given tests weekly if the Board of Education and Department of Health and Human Services are planning to continue in-person learning.

It took less than a week to have over a hundred schools in the county reach over 5% positive cases from December 23, 2021, to January 5, 2022. As in-person learning continues and cases increase, it is just not realistic to give out one rapid test kit, leave it at that, and expect students to be on track and safe in terms of testing.

Today, MCPS officials requested additional tests from the count to distribute every other week. While this is a step in the right direction, it’s not enough to keep students and staff safe and in-person learning intact.

Lines for PCR testing are long, and rapid test kits are still often expensive and hard to get. If there is not frequent testing available to students, many cases will go undocumented, therefore making any data about cases in each school and the county inaccurate. If students are going to school and are unknowingly positive for the virus, then cases will not go down.

Though students have received this rapid test kit, they realistically may not be the only ones using the kits. Many students have families who may need to get tested, and if they give their rapid test to their family, the option to get tested themselves in a timely manner if the situation calls for it may not be readily available. If testing kits are given out weekly, this would also ensure that everyone has the opportunity to get tested.

The ultimate goal is to have cases go down, for this pandemic to be over, and to go back to a normal life. In order for that to happen, the right steps need to be taken. Giving out rapid tests to students weekly is the best thing MCPS can do to guarantee safety for everyone if we continue in-person learning.

As we await more information from MCPS regarding testing kits and in-person learning, students who have COVID symptoms should get tested as soon as possible. If getting tested in a timely manner is not an option, stay home until the option becomes available.

In the meantime, if you need rapid tests you can register here for four free tests to be sent to your home through the United States Postal Service.

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