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Connecticut Begins Pilot Program Offering Rapid COVID-19 Tests To Students, Teachers

CONNECTICUT (CBSNewYork) -- A Connecticut school is trying out a new pilot program that offers rapid COVID-19 testing to students.

Gov. Ned Lamont hopes it can eventually be rolled out statewide, CBS2's Natalie Duddridge reported Thursday.

Tracy Aaron's son is a high school sophomore in Stamford. He's been stuck at home for two weeks because a classmate contracted COVID-19.

"My son is now in quarantine because he was exposed in school. So, yes, I'm all for tests," Aaron said. "Anything that can help, would be happy to have rapid tests in all the schools."

Gov. Lamont announced a new pilot program to try and prevent the spread and minimize the time students spend away from the classroom. It offers free rapid testing to any K-12 student, teacher or staff member who shows symptoms.

"Gives the superintendent, the teachers here confidence if it's a test negative. You don't have to shut down, you don't have to quarantine. You can keep everybody going," Lamont said.


A Middletown public school is the first to try out what's called the BinaxNOW test, which rubs a swab inside the nostrils then gives results in 15 minutes.

If it comes back positive, that student can quarantine and limit exposure immediately. However, if negative, health officials still recommend taking a follow-up test to confirm results.

Some educators feel rapid testing gives people a false sense of security.

"Even if we have a rapid test, there's questionability about the accuracy of the test," said Ruth-Terry Walden, a high school teacher in Stamford. "Quarantining is really the safest and the best way for you to protect yourself and the community at large."

As of Thursday, Connecticut's COVID-19 positivity rate was 4.2%. Many community members said they'd welcome any and all increased testing to slow the spread.

"It's not a 100% guarantee, but it still gives a person some assurance," one person said.

"I know it's not accurate all the time, but I think that's a step in the right direction," said Jose Cleves, a Stamford resident.

Connecticut's education commissioner said dozens of school districts in the state have shown interest in the rapid testing program.


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