US pledges more Covid-19 schools tests to avert remote learning return
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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.
The unions' decision to prioritize teachers' health has put them at loggerheads with local authorities, as families and experts remain torn about the wisdom of virtual education when effective vaccines are widely available to everyone aged five and up.
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.