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Rapid COVID-19 tests expected to arrive at Maryland's largest school district this week

The goal is to keep kids in class and out of quarantine.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — Rapid COVID-19 tests will soon be available in Maryland‘s largest school district. It’s the latest move Montgomery County Public Schools plans to take to help keep kids stay safe in the classroom.

More than 1,500 students were sent home to quarantine during the first two weeks of class. As a way to minimize quarantines moving forward, a school district spokesperson said they expect to receive the rapid COVID-19 test kits from the state by the end of the week.

Another change to the reopening plan in Montgomery County is that all staff will now be required to be vaccinated. 

At a school board meeting Thursday evening, district leaders voted unanimously to pass a resolution requiring all employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to a spokesperson from MCPS, proof of the first vaccine is required by Sept. 30 and proof of the second is required by Oct. 29. 

MCPS said documented medical exemptions will be accepted. 

Previously, unvaccinated employees would have to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing. The unanimous vote also removed the option to instead be tested. 

RELATED: Montgomery County Public School Board passes vaccine mandate for all employees

Montgomery County Public Schools also updated the requirements for students participating in winter and spring sports. 

Beginning Nov. 15, all students enrolled in school athletics will need to show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Loudoun and Fairfax Counties also implemented similar policies requiring students to receive the vaccine if they wish to participate in school sports.

RELATED: Some parents push back after districts require student-athletes to get COVID vaccine

Prince William County is also considering whether to enforce weekly COVID-19 testing for employees not vaccinated. District leaders said nearly 80% of school employees are vaccinated.

RELATED: Schools adapting to Delta variant and updating testing, quarantine policies

RELATED: Prince William schools consider weekly testing requirement for unvaccinated staff

As of Aug. 13, MCPS has put several other safety measures in place: 

  • Encourage the use of outdoor spaces for unmasked educational, recreational and social experiences for our students
  • Facilitate continuity of educational services for students who are unable to attend in-person instruction due to the need to quarantine
  • Provide opportunities for individuals to engage in proactive preventative measures, such as frequent hand-washing
  • Remind students and staff that they must stay home when experiencing any possible symptoms of COVID-19
  • Ensure school facilities will be regularly sanitized, equipped with cleaning supplies, and ventilation and air quality monitored
  • Provide in-school COVID-19 pool testing for random samples of students in prekindergarten through 6th grade, since students younger than 12 are not eligible to receive the vaccine
  • Communicate clearly, concisely and in a timely manner with families and staff as information becomes available
  • Respond to changing conditions so that our students will not experience major disruptions in their education

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