Colorado has launched a first-of-its-kind at-home rapid testing program for educators.
Colorado is one of three states chosen to partner with Abbot BinaxNOW to expand use of rapid COVID-19 testing to further open schools, boost the economy and suppress the virus. The program launched Feb. 1.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has partnered with Amazon and digital health provider eMed to bring testing to educators’ homes with a medical professional present through a telehealth appointment.
“In-person learning is essential to the well-being and safety of our students, as well as the future of our economy,” Gov. Jared Polis said. “This is why my administration has worked to swiftly implement and responsibly fund an effective layered safety approach in order to get our students back in the classroom.”
Colorado purchased 2 million BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card test kits, and the state is working to deliver kits directly to the homes of teachers, staff and selected students from hundreds of participating public and private schools across the state.
“Colorado is one of the first states in the country to receive these test kits, and we are pleased to support Gov. Polis’ vision,” said Dr. Patrice Harris, eMed CEO.
“The ability to test a population, in this case the teachers, staff and students of Colorado, for COVID-19 is one of the necessary steps, along with masks, social distancing and vaccines, that will allow us to curb the spread of this virus.”
Harris said the BinaxNOW test can be self-administered at home with results in as little as 15 minutes.
BinaxNOW testing is one important part of the layered school safety protocols critical for ensuring students are able to learn in-person, including vaccines for educators and school staff, mask-wearing, symptom screening, ventilation, cohort isolation, quarantine enforcement and social distancing.
These precautions are detailed in the state’s Roadmap to In-Person Learning, developed in partnership with the Back-to-School Working Group, a group of educators, parents and public health professionals focused on getting the state back to in-person learning as soon as safely possible.
Amazon Web Services worked with the governor’s Office of Information Technology to develop a distribution system which integrates with Amazon’s fulfillment network.
Since last fall, the Polis administration has provided more than 230,000 PCR tests to teachers and the education community through its vendor COVIDCheck Colorado.
As of January 28, the state funded more than 70 COVIDCheck Colorado testing locations throughout the state. The Polis administration has also provided more than 7 million medical-grade masks to teachers in private and public schools delivered weekly throughout the state. This is scheduled to continue for the remainder of the school year.
The Polis administration has also sent more than $15 million in grants to school districts and schools throughout the state for additional measures to increase COVID safety protocols such as outdoor classrooms and ventilation improvements.
School faculty, staff and selected students can use the test kits as part of the ongoing effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. The tests can be used for symptomatic individuals, for those who have been exposed to COVID-19 and for screening asymptomatic individuals.
According to CDPHE, the BinaxNOW test will detect COVID-19 cases caused by variants but will not be able to tell an individual which variant caused it.