By Jessica Mathews/

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is moving forward with plans to offer a voluntary COVID-19 testing program that will provide weekly tests to educators.

The MI Safe Schools Testing Program aims to help achieve Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s goal of having all Michigan school districts offer an in-person learning option for students by March 1st. The COVID-19 rapid antigen testing program is now underway. The program is for state educators from both public and private schools and the Department is providing testing supplies to schools at no cost. Approximately 300 schools and 9,000 staff have signed up for testing so far.

In November, the Department paused in-person learning in high schools as part of an order to limit indoor gatherings to address an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths and in hospital occupancy rates. After case numbers decreased, high schools were permitted to resume in-person classes effective December 21st. Later on January 8th, the Department announced COVID-19 guidance for schools that went along with the goal of an in-person instruction option in all school districts by March 1st. The guidance included availability of testing for educators. In Livingston County, districts are offering both in-person instruction and virtual options.

A press release states the rapid antigen testing program is modeled after Michigan’s successful pilot project that tested student-athletes and coaches who were participating in playoffs for high school fall sports such as football. In that program, more than 8,300 people were tested. It was said to have resulted in the detection of 69 A-symptomatic COVID-19 cases that otherwise could have been missed.

More information about the MI Safe Schools Testing Program can be found through the provided link.