Advance Notice: Briefs

Whitmer announces at-home COVID test kit pilot program for students and school staff 

By: - November 19, 2021 11:01 am

City of Detroit sets up COVID-19 15-minute testing machines | City of Detroit photo

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced a new pilot program Thursday to equip students in some schools with at-home COVID-19 tests as Michigan heads into the holidays and currently tops states for the most cases in the last week. 

The program, MI Backpack Home Tests, is an extension of the original MI Safe School Testing Program that DHHS launched in January. The new pilot program will allow parents, students and faculty to voluntarily sign up for the program and utilize the at-home COVID-19 test kits. The program begins in Charlotte Public Schools this week. 

Dr. Alexis Travis, senior deputy director for the DHHS Public Health Administration, said in a press release that the testing program will ensure a way to fight against the spread of the virus. 

“MDHHS is committed to looking for innovative ways to protect the public health during this pandemic,” Travis said. “The MI Backpack Home Tests program is another tool we can use to combat COVID-19.” 

The program is slated to launch in Benton Harbor Area Schools and Battle Creek Public Schools in a few weeks. Each will receive their testing kits following Thanksgiving break. 

In the initial week of the pilot program, schools send out information to parents and faculty to then collect registration forms from those who want to participate. DHHS will then send kits to schools who will give the kits to the students and staff members who signed up. The kits will be used if a student or staff member is showing symptoms or has been exposed to COVID-19. 

Whitmer also encouraged students to get vaccinated to further protect themselves against the virus. Children as young as 5 are now eligible for shots. 

“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. “While these tests will help keep people safe, the best thing anyone can do to protect themselves and ensure safe, in-person learning, is to get vaccinated.”  

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Julia Forrest
Julia Forrest

Julia Forrest is a contributor to the Michigan Advance. She has been covering Michigan and national politics for two years at the Michigan Daily and OpenSecrets. She studies public policy at the University of Michigan.

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