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Michigan launches pilot program distributing COVID-19 test kits at school

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rapid antigen test

A COVID-19 Abbot BinaxNOW rapid antigen test.

LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Michigan students will receive free at-home COVID-19 rapid antigen tests from their schools under a new pilot program launched this week.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the voluntary MI Backpack Home Tests program at Charlotte Public Schools on Thursday. The program will expand soon to Benton Harbor Area Schools, Battle Creek Public Schools and other districts later this month.

Whitmer said the program is designed to provide a safer environment for students, parents, teachers and staff by providing families who sign up a chance to test for COVID-19 at home before going to school and potentially exposing others to the illness.

“We must use every tool in our toolbox to keep kids safe and ensure that they can continue learning in person this school year,” Whitmer said. “With the MI Backpack Home Tests program, we can help protect students, parents, teachers, and school staff by providing free tests directly to Michigan families.”

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Everyone who signs up for the program through their school will receive one at-home COVID-19 test kit, which includes two individual tests. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will provide educational materials with each kit.

The MI Backpack Home Tests is an expansion of the MI Safe School Testing Program launched in February. State health officials hope to get a geographically diverse sample of school districts involved with the pilot project before offering through all schools.

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“This pilot offers one more tool to keep our school communities safe,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive. “Along with the safe and effective vaccine, in-school testing, mask wearing, ventilation, social distancing and handwashing, take-home testing allows schools to educate our children safely during the pandemic.”

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