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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

麻州州長查理貝克宣佈下週起每週為中小學師生提供新冠病毒居家檢測

麻州州長Charlie Baker說明中小學增加新冠病毒檢測選擇。
(Boston Orange 編譯) 麻州州長查理貝克 (Charlie Baker) (18) 日一早和麻州教育廳廳長James Peyser,以及麻州中小學教育局局長Jeffrey Riley聯袂宣佈,下週起,將每週分發新冠病毒快速居家抗體檢測給州內的中小學師生。

查理貝克說,各學校可在現行的檢測並留校 (Test and Stay)”辦法之外,自行決定是否參加這快速檢測計畫。

參加”檢測並留校”,以及症狀及/或者群檢測 (Pool testing)的學校,將可停止做接觸追蹤,以及檢測並留校的作法。那將容許學校把時間和資源集中用於辨認有症狀的個人。

他還說麻州已設有915個檢測門診為170個社區的民眾服務。分發居家檢測劑則是麻州政府中小學教育廳 (DESE),公共衛生廳 (DPH)在現有的檢測辦法之外,為中小學師生增加的一項選擇。

麻州中小學教育局局長Jeffrey C. Riley (右)。

新英格蘭各州中的康州 (CT)、佛蒙特州 (VT)最近都從個人的接觸追蹤,轉為居家檢測,並把學校內的保護師生健康做法,集中在有症狀者的檢測。

辦理「居家檢測」辦法的這些檢測劑將來自麻州政府上週宣佈,從iHealth訂購來的2600萬劑居家快速抗體檢測。

Jeffrey Riley稱許這新的居家檢測計畫。他說這新的居家檢測計畫確實可讓情況幡變,容許護士們把更多時間花在辨識有症狀者,以及校內的其他新冠病毒疫情管理工作。

麻州中小學教育委員會今日也發出通知,本週開始,學校可以登記收取每週給教職員及學生使用的居家快速抗體檢測,預定124日就可以收到。學校也會在131日的那星期,代家長選擇參加這辦法的學生收取這些檢測劑。

該通知稱,居家檢測劑將直接交給學區,一個包裹內有2套檢測劑。參加這辦法的學生及教職員,每2週會收到一個包裹。家長需通知學校是否希望快速居家檢測劑由學生帶回家。

如果有人在家檢測陽性,就應該通知學校。然後由學校把檢測陽性的個案報告給州政府知道,並成為州政府現行的每週新冠病毒報告系統的一部分。

越來越多的醫療及教育專家認為,控制高度傳染性病毒需要很多資源,但大多數感染了的學童症狀輕微,學校應該轉變做法。不過也有科學家、教師工會及學生家長辯稱,在確診個案陡增之際,州政府應該加倍努力來控制高傳染性的病毒,以保護包括低收入社區的高危人群。他們也指出,沒人知道感染新冠病毒的長期影響。

牛頓公校系統在本月初就表示,自從具有高傳染性的新冠病毒奧米克戎 (Omocron)變種出現以來,由於學生教職員確診人數陡增,超過1000人,校方已無力繼續做接觸追蹤。

由於麻州的檢測並留校辦法,容許那些已完整接種疫苗的學生、教職員豁免檢測,但是已接種疫苗者後來確診的消息頻傳,許多家長因此質疑檢測並留校辦法的有用程度。

不過州政府人員稱數據顯示該辦法讓學校很安全,那些和確診者有接觸的有症狀者,在不斷重複的檢測中,90%都呈陰性。截至19日,在已執行的503,312檢測並留校檢測中,有496,440人呈陰性。

            麻州政府表示,自從新冠病毒爆發後的2021年以來,因為關鍵工作人員短缺,許多人精疲力竭而辭職,麻州已失去700張醫療、手術及重症病床。

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Weekly At-Home Tests Available for Students and Staff Enrolled in State’s Testing Programs


Schools Will Have Increased Testing Resources and Flexibility to Effectively Respond to COVID-19 and Maintain In-Person Learning



BOSTON
 — The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Department of Public Health (DPH) announced today updated school COVID-19 testing options, including providing participating teachers and staff with at-home rapid tests weekly, to optimize in-person learning. The two departments also released updated data on the pooled testing and Test and Stay programs, showing very few positive cases and low transmission rates.

At-Home Test Option
Beginning this week, schools will be able to sign up to receive at-home rapid antigen tests for weekly use by all participating staff and students. Schools exercising this option will discontinue contact tracing and Test and Stay. This will enable school health staff to spend more time and resources identifying symptomatic individuals and focusing on other aspects of COVID-19 management. Schools must continue to participate in symptomatic and/or pooled testing in order to take part in the new at-home test program.

Other New England states, including Connecticut and Vermont, have recently transitioned from individualized contact tracing to the use of at-home tests and focusing school health efforts on symptomatic testing. This new option will give Massachusetts school districts more flexibility and more resources in COVID-19 testing that have the most immediate impact to keep schools open.

Schools will be able to start opting-in to the program this week for staff and will receive tests during the week of January 24. Schools will receive tests for students whose families opt-in during the week of January 31.

The at-home tests will be shipped directly to school districts for distribution and are packaged in kits that contain two tests. Students and staff who participate will receive one kit every two weeks to test themselves. Families will need to inform their school if they want at-home rapid antigen tests sent home with students. If an individual tests positive at home, they should inform their school of the result. Schools will report positive cases to DESE as part of the weekly COVID-19 reporting already in place. 

The tests for this program will come from the supply of 26 million at-home rapid antigen tests the Baker-Polito Administration announced last week it ordered from iHealth and that will be delivered over the next three months. K-12 schools and child care centers will be prioritized for those tests.
 
Testing Program Data
With more than 2,000 public and private schools in the Commonwealth participating in COVID-19 testing, DESE and DPH have gathered robust data about the prevalence of COVID-19 in schools that clearly illustrates schools are safe environments for teaching and learning. Schools are one of the few types of settings in the state where individuals are tested on a regular basis.

Data collected over the past few months from the Test and Stay program is compelling around what it reveals about school safety. Students and staff individually identified as asymptomatic close contacts and repeatedly tested in school through Test and Stay test negative more than 90 percent of the time. As of January 9, 503,312 Test and Stay tests had been conducted; 496,440 of them were negative (almost 99 percent).
 
Data from K-12 pooled testing is equally as strong, pointing to the fact that school is safe. The data reveal that individual positivity rates are significantly lower than statewide positivity rates. Last week, despite elevated positivity rates in K-12 schools, the estimated individual positivity rate was still roughly 1/5 of the statewide positivity rate.

“Massachusetts’ first and most comprehensive in the nation school testing program has reinforced the fact that our schools remain safe places for students, teachers and faculty,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “The Test and Stay program data revealed extremely low rates of secondary transmission, which shows that close contacts very rarely test positive.”  
 
“Through experience with our robust K-12 testing programs, we have been able to learn that in-school transmission is extremely rare, and we understand from medical professionals and school nurses that now is time to provide additional options to districts. This increased flexibility will give communities the ability to do what is best for their students and staff and keep schools open for learning,” said Education Secretary James Peyser.
 
“As always, we are committed to using available data to inform our recommendations to schools and districts. We have heard from school nurses and superintendents that we need to adapt our strategy to allow them to focus directly on symptomatic individuals rather than identifying asymptomatic close contacts,” said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley.
 
Schools have maintained effective and safe operations all year, including during periods of high community transmission, by employing robust mitigation strategies which will remain in place. Public health officials continue to emphasize the importance of increasing vaccination and booster rates, monitoring daily for all COVID-specific symptoms, and staying home when sick.
 
Vaccines
As a reminder, vaccines continue to be the best way to protect all Massachusetts residents against the effects of COVID-19, and Massachusetts has among the highest vaccinations rates in the country for adults and adolescents. Students and staff are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. Schools can host mobile vaccination clinics to continue to provide access to vaccines and boosters for staff and students.

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