Initial shipment of antigen tests sent to Missouri schools

The Rolla Daily News

State officials began shipping antigen test kits to public and private schools across Missouri Monday. 

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said nearly 330 districts applied to participate in Missouri’s BinaxNOW Antigen Testing Program for K-12 school systems, requesting nearly 583,000 test kits for use among symptomatic students and school personnel. 

The minimally invasive nasal swab tests must be administered by a health professional, such as a school nurse. The tests will yield results in 15 minutes, according to the department in a news release Monday.  

Many districts will perform rapid tests onsite after receiving consent from the staff member or the student’s parent or guardian. According to the department of education, some districts have partnered with local health departments or another medical provider in their community to assist in administering the tests. 

Positive and negative test results will be reported electronically to the Department of Health and Senior Services within 24 hours. 

Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven said in a news release: “The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education continues to work hard to make any and all resources available to school leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We believe these rapid antigen tests, in conjunction with other mitigation strategies, could be instrumental in helping schools provide onsite learning opportunities safely. We appreciate colleagues at DHSS and the State Emergency Management Agency for working quickly with our team on this important initiative.”

Schools that applied will receive the number of test kits requested, up to one test per student and staff member, due to limited inventory. The tests kits will be sent in incremental shipments over the coming months. 

In the state’s current inventory, there are approximately 240,000 test kits available to distribute to K-12 schools that have provided the required assurances and documentation, according to the department of education. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services prioritized public and private K-12 schools to receive the Abbott BinaxNOW rapid antigen test kits free of charge, along with higher education institutions and long-term care facilities. According to the department of education, Missouri is expected to receive a total of 1.84 million Abbott BinaxNOW antigen test kits.