State Issues New Guidance For College Students Traveling This Holiday Season

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.

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