BOSTON (WHDH) - Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday announced that rapid COVID-19 antigen tests will be made available to child care programs statewide as Massachusetts continues to deal with the highly contagious omicron variant.

The tests will be available by the week of Jan. 31 as part of the Testing for Child Care program, a first-in-the-nation testing initiative, according to Baker.

Baker says the new initiative will allow staff and children 2 years and older, who are close contacts of a COVID positive individual, to test daily for five consecutive days with rapid antigen tests and remain in the child care setting as long as the test is negative.

Staff and children who develop symptoms while attending or providing care will also be eligible to participate in a symptomatic program.

All child care programs affiliated with the Department of Early Education and Care can sign up for free COVID-19 tests, resources, and training to implement the state’s new protocols.

“This comprehensive testing program is designed to ensure children can safely continue learning and receiving quality care while parents are working,” Baker said. “Child care is a key piece of the infrastructure supporting the Commonwealth’s economy, and this testing program will help to eliminate one of the challenges parents and employers face every day.”

Testing for Child Care Testing for Child Care provides three options for COVID-19 testing to meet programs’ specific needs, according to Baker. Providers can opt into any or all three: rapid cohort testing, symptomatic rapid antigen testing, and weekly pooled testing.

The state is working with Neighborhood Villages, a nonprofit, to implement the programs and deliver the necessary free rapid tests to participating child care centers.

Baker on Tuesday announced a new program that will make weekly at-home COVID-19 tests available to students and staff in an effort to keep schools open for in-person learning as virus cases surge.

The tests for these programs will come from the supply of 26 million at-home rapid antigen tests that Baker announced last week.

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