The Bulletin Board

Schools given option to continue testing for COVID-19

By: - July 1, 2021 5:15 pm
A teacher wearing a mask cleans a desk

Data suggests that students who received lessons via virtual learning suffered slightly bigger drops in their assessments than those who stayed in schools. (Getty Images)

When New Hampshire public school students return to classrooms in August and September, one piece of pandemic life might be sticking around: testing. 

Granite State schools will have the option to continue testing their students for COVID-19 when they return in the fall, under a voluntary program extending to June 30, 2022.

The $20 million, federally funded testing program, approved by Gov. Chris Sununu in the spring and presented to the Executive Council Wednesday as an informational item, allows schools to choose from four contractors – ClearChoice MD, ConvenientMD, Ginkgo Bioworks, or the University of New Hampshire – to help administer tests on campus.

The scenarios for the testing vary.

“COVID-19 testing will be available to students and staff who have traveled internationally or on a cruise ship, participate in contact sports teams, live at a residential K-12 school, are returning to the school setting from an extended break . . . and are in other congregate settings where persons are at higher risk of COVID-19 than the general population,” wrote Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette in an informational item to the Executive Council.

It is unclear how many schools will continue to participate in the testing program in the fall, which was rolled out on May 25, as vaccinations were still climbing. That number “will depend on the trajectory of COVID-19,” the informational item stated.

The $20 million is split over two state fiscal years, Fiscal Year 2021, which ended on Wednesday, and Fiscal Year 2022, which will carry to the end of June 2022.

In April, Sununu ordered all schools to reopen five days a week later that month, prompting criticism from some school administrators and teachers at the time that the mandate took place before teachers could be fully vaccinated. 

Since May, schools have been required to produce a public plan for reopening on their website in order to receive a share of $234 million in additional federal aid funding. 

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Ethan DeWitt
Ethan DeWitt

Ethan DeWitt is the New Hampshire Bulletin’s education reporter. Previously, he worked as the New Hampshire State House reporter for the Concord Monitor, covering the state, the Legislature, and the New Hampshire presidential primary. A Westmoreland native, Ethan started his career as the politics and health care reporter at the Keene Sentinel.