By SCOTT JACKSON
Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday issued new guidance for college students traveling this holiday season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the new guidance, students who leave campuses for the holidays should receive a negative COVID-19 test from their school within 72 hours of the planned departure. State officials are also asking that schools provide students living off-campus with access to COVID-19 tests before they depart for the holidays.
Students who do test positive should immediately isolate themselves in campus housing set aside for coronavirus-positive students. Students who previously tested positive and are already isolating in on-campus housing should remain in place until they clear the 10-day isolation period.
Students in quarantine after contact with a positive case should remain in place until the 14-day period expires. Quarantined students may leave campus housing after 10 days if they do not have any symptoms and they receive a negative result from a molecular diagnostic test administered at least eight days after exposure to someone diagnosed with COVID-19.
Students returning to campus after the holidays – whether from inside Massachusetts or outside the state – must produce a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their return to campus.
State officials on Wednesday also announced that new Abbot BinaxNOW COVID-19 tests would be made available to certain school districts by Dec. 1.
Students who experience an onset of COVID-19 symptoms while in school would be eligible for testing using the new tool, provided the school had received permission from the school beforehand. The Abbott BinaxNOW tool provides a rapid antigen test that can produce results within 15 minutes. Results from that test would require confirmation from a standard PCR test.
The Abbott test cool cannot be used for large-scale testing of asymptomatic students and staff, state officials stated.