WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is increasing federal support for COVID-19 testing for schools in a bid to keep them open amid the omicron surge.
The White House said Wednesday the administration is making a dedicated stream of 5 million rapid tests and 5 million lab-based PCR tests available to schools starting this month.
The goal is to ease supply shortages and promote the safe reopening of schools.
"Students have sacrificed so much over the course of the pandemic, and the President has been clear in his words and his actions that his Administration will do all that it can to keep schools safely open for all students," the White House said in a statement.
The White House says states can request the tests immediately, and the tests will be available for use by the end of the month. However, The Associated Press reports that the 10 million monthly tests are only enough to cover the roughly 50 million students and educators in the nation's schools.
In addition to increasing access to testing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention later this week will release new guidance to help schools implement "test-to-stay" policies, in which schools use rapid tests to keep close contacts of those who test positive in the classroom.
The initiative comes after Chicago public schools closed for days amid an impasse between teachers and officials over reopening policies.