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State buys additional COVID-19 tests for schools, health-care and long-term care facilities

Maine Dept. of Education Commissioner Pender Makin said schools will likely remain in hybrid learning 'through the spring'

AUGUSTA, Maine — State officials announced Tuesday that it has purchased an additional 250,000 rapid COVID-19 tests scheduled to arrive over the next three months to be distributed to schools, health-care facilities, and long-term care facilities.

The tests are part of an effort to expand regular testing in schools to reduce transmission of the coronavirus and help schools return to in-person learning.

But Maine Department of Education Commissioner Pender Makin said during a press briefing Tuesday that schools have not yet reopened fully due to a need for social distancing -- a need that she said is likely to continue "through the spring."

"I don't think we're at a place where we're ready to reduce that requirement of schools for safety reasons," Making said.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services said in a release Tuesday that the BinaxNOW tests will allow serial testing of teachers and staff who are close contacts of people diagnosed with COVID-19, and eliminate the need for them to quarantine for 10 days.