COLUMBIA, Mo (KMIZ)
The state of Missouri is putting a pause on a program that provides rapid COVID-19 tests to schools across the state.
Mallory McGowin Spokeswomen for The State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says, "We now have depleted the limited quantity, the limited inventory that was set aside for schools."
Hundreds of schools and districts large and small are enrolled in the state's antigen test program. These tests allow students and staff to know within 15 minutes if they are COVID positive or not.
"A school leader can quickly figure out if a teacher's runny nose is COVID or allergies or a cold and that means that can often make a difference if a teacher can teach in front of a classroom or not." McGowin says.
The current high demand in antigen test across the country is causing the test manufacturer, Abbott to not be able to provide the test to the state.
The Current pause is not only affecting K-12 schools but also long-term care facilities, veteran homes, department of mental health residential facilities and more.
DESE is encouraging schools to use their antigen test inventory on symptomatic staff members only.
Columbia Public Schools uses the state's program to provide rapid test in their schools and has been using their antigen test to only test students and staff that are symptomatic.
Michelle Baumstark, Chief Communications Officer for CPS says, "We placed several reorders in November and December and received confirmation that some of our reorder would be filled, but not the full order requested."
No orders will be fulfilled until supply improves, the state says. The state is also putting a hold on new applications from districts that want tests.
DESE will now be offering a saliva-based P-C-R testing option that will provide results in 48 hours.
The state is going to stay on top of when the supply constraints will be resolved so they can get this valuable resource back into schools.
The state also had to put a hold this week on household orders of PCR tests because of high demand.