(The Center Square) – The Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) announced Wednesday the creation of a new COVID-19 Rapid Testing Pilot Program for Texas school systems.
TDEM will provide participating school systems with COVID-19 rapid antigen tests that will be administered to students, teachers, and district staff who choose to participate. In order for students to be tested, they must have written permission from their parents.
Schools enrolled in the program also will receive personal protective equipment (PPE) to safely administer the rapid tests. The tests produce “reliable results within 15 minutes,” the governor’s office says.
The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which has provided the antigen tests to the state of Texas.
"As more students return to campus for in-person instruction, the state of Texas is working alongside school officials to provide resources to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among students and staff," Gov. Greg Abbott said in a news release. “This rapid testing pilot program will be an effective strategy to protect the health and safety of students and staff while helping to further ensure that Texas students have access to a quality education throughout the pandemic and beyond."
The pilot program is expected to expand significantly throughout the state after it is first launched in eight participating school systems:
- Bob Hope School (Port Arthur)
- Fabens ISD
- Grace Community School (Tyler)
- Granger ISD
- Lampasas ISD
- Longview ISD
- Harlingen Consolidated ISD
- Ysleta ISD
Texas public and private schools interested in participating in the program will be able to apply through the Texas Education Agency no later than Wednesday, Oct. 28, when the application process for all Texas school systems is expected to be fully operational.