Whitmer launches COVID-19 testing program with health department



LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Governor Gretchen Whitmer, alongside the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), has designed a new testing program to create a safer school environment.

The MI Backpack Home Tests are free, at-home COVID-19 antigen tests. The testing program is entirely voluntary, with parents, students and staff being able to sign up to take home test kits.

Each kit includes two tests provided by MDHHS.

We must use every tool in our toolbox to keep kids safe and ensure that they can continue learning in person this school year. With the MI Backpack Home Tests program, we can help protect students, parents, teachers, and school staff by providing free tests directly to Michigan families. While these tests will help keep people safe, the best thing anyone can do to protect themselves and ensure safe, in-person learning, is to get vaccinated. I urge all parents to take their children ages 5 and up to get a safe, effective vaccine.”  

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

MI Backpack Home Tests are getting their start in Charlotte Public Schools.

According to the Governor, during the first week of the pilot, schools send information to parents and staff, collecting registration forms from those who chose to participate.

MDHHS will ship kits to schools to distribute to participating students and staff next week.

Once they have their test kits, participants can use the kits at home if someone has symptoms or exposure to someone else with COVID-19.  

“This pilot offers one more tool to keep our school communities safe,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive. “Along with the safe and effective vaccine, in-school testing, mask-wearing, ventilation, social distancing and handwashing, take-home testing allows schools to educate our children safely during the pandemic.” 

The MI Backpack Home Tests are a portion of MDHHS MI School Safe Testing Program.

School districts, including Benton Harbor Area Schools and Battle Creek Public Schools have already signed up for the program.

The districts will be added to the pilot program in later weeks and receive their test kits after the Thanksgiving break.

MDHHS is inviting a variety of schools around the state to participate in the pilot so that its effectiveness can be gauged around the state.  

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