Leaders with the Maryland health and education departments are encouraging school systems to expand testing for COVID-19 when students return to classes in the fall, and are offering funding to help.
“Testing for COVID-19 remains a key component in our fight against this disease and it is essential that our schools have access to the resources needed and are prepared to keep our children safe,” said Maryland Secretary of Health Dennis R. Schrader.
All K-12 public and non-public schools are being encouraged to apply for funding through the eMaryland Marketplace.
The money to fund routine school testing programs is being made available through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We strongly encourage K-12 schools to request these funds and put in place a robust testing program to protect students, teachers and staff during this upcoming school year,” Schrader said.
“This new funding will help schools address the necessary learning and public health strategies needed to continue to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mohammed Choudhury, Maryland’s state superintendent of schools.
The latest guidance from the CDC recommends a robust, school-based screening testing program as another important measure that can help facilitate continued safe in-person schooling and catch coronavirus cases as soon as possible.
Some experts have expressed concern for younger kids as the vaccine has only been approved for people at least 12-years-old.
“It leaves a large proportion of our patient population unvaccinated and especially vulnerable,” said Dr. Alexandra Yonts, a pediatric infectious disease specialist with Children’s National Hospital in D.C. “We are still having children who are requiring admission to the hospital for COVID-19. They represent the population that has the most risk of infection.”
The World Health Organization has warned that the trifecta of easier-to-spread strains, insufficiently immunized populations and a drop in mask use and other public health measures before the virus is better contained will “delay the end of the pandemic.”