WASHINGTON: The United States announced an increase in Covid-19 tests for schools on Wednesday in a bid to keep students in the classroom, as a surge in infections threatens to bring back remote learning.
Around four percent of US schools have already shut with the Omicron variant tearing across the country, infecting pupils and educators and forcing teachers' unions to take a more cautious approach to curb transmission, reports AFP.
President Joe Biden has made keeping physical classrooms running during the current coronavirus surge a priority, and on Wednesday pledged an additional 10 million Covid-19 tests per month for US schools.
"These additional tests will help schools safely remain open and implement screening testing and test to stay programs," the White House said.
"We know how to keep students and staff safely in school -- including through vaccinations and boosters, implementing universal indoor masking, maintaining physical distancing, improving ventilation, and performing Covid-19 screening testing.
" The additional kits will double the amount of testing that took place at schools in November 2021, the White House added.
The government will also deploy "surge testing units" near school grounds to support pupils and staff by creating specific hours for them to get checked, and allocating a greater proportion of resources to these communities.