State offers free COVID-19 testing for K-12 schools for 2021-2022 school year

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch
York Academy Regional Charter School second-grader Samiha Storms self-administers a COVID-19 test Thursday, Feb 4, 2021 at the city school. The testing is part of the new pandemic protocols at the academy. Bill Kalina photo

Pennsylvania's K-12 schools now have the option of offering free COVID-19 tests during the 2021-22 academic year through a developing state program. 

The state Department of Education received an unspecified amount of federal funding to offer COVID-19 testing to local schools at no cost to the districts or families, according to an announcement from the state Department of Education on Wednesday. The voluntary program is still in development, with additional information expected to come. 

All K-12 schools can participate in the program outside of Philadelphia County, which received separate federal funding to implement a similar testing program. The program will likely include several testing options, including rapid tests. 

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York County school districts are currently working on their health and safety plans for the 2021-22 school year, which must be submitted by July 30 to be eligible for COVID-19 relief funding. It is too early to say how much the new program will affect the plans. 

West York Area School District officials have not discussed the new program yet, according to spokeswoman Cindi Greco. Dover Area School District spokesman Bradly Perkins said he doesn't believe the district would ever require COVID-19 testing at schools. During the previous school year, in the height of the pandemic, Dover schools did not offer COVID-19 testing.