Rapid COVID tests are rolling out to Massachusetts schools soon. Here’s what you should know.

Phase 1 of distribution, which starts in early December, focuses mostly on suburbs and rural areas.

Abbott’s BinaxNOW antigen test can show results in 15 minutes. Abbott Laboratories

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Some Massachusetts schools could start receiving rapid antigen COVID tests as early as this week.

The state announced earlier this month that 134 public school districts, charter schools, and special education collaboratives will get the first batch of about 2 million Abbott BinaxNOW tests in early December. Parents will have to give permission for their children to be tested, and it’s at no cost.

Phase 1 is intended for schools that have returned to any kind of in-person teaching, whether in full or with a hybrid model. Schools and districts that were not selected for Phase 1 will be able to receive tests in future phases.


This early stage of distribution focuses mostly on suburbs and rural areas. Most of the state’s largest cities, like Boston, Worcester, Springfield, Cambridge, and Lowell, are not included in Phase 1.

While antigen tests are not as accurate as PCR tests (the standard type of molecular test), they are much faster. The Abbott antigen test shows results within 15 minutes, while PCR tests can take days. The credit card-sized test uses a sample from a nose swab and doesn’t require any extra instruments, so it can be completely administered by school nurses on location.

The rapid antigen test is not meant for widespread use. It’s specifically intended for students and staff who show certain symptoms like fever or muscle aches. People who test negative will still be sent home until their symptoms subside or they receive a negative PCR test. Those with minor and isolated symptoms might still be tested, but they won’t be sent home if their test is negative.


Here’s a list of all the schools and districts that will soon receive the rapid tests:

Public school districts

Barnstable County

  • Barnstable
  • Bourne
  • Falmouth
  • Sandwich

Berkshire County

  • Berkshire Hills Regional (Great Barrington, Stockbridge, West Stockbridge)
  • Central Berkshire Regional (Becket, Cummington, Dalton, Hinsdale, Peru, Washington, Windsor)
  • Clarksburg
  • Richmond
  • Southern Berkshire Regional (Alford, Egremont, Monterey, Mount Washington, New Marlborough, Sheffield)

Bristol County

  • Dighton-Rehoboth
  • Freetown-Lakeville
  • New Bedford
  • North Attleborough
  • Swansea

Dukes County

  • Martha’s Vineyard (Aquinnah, Chilmark, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury, West Tisbury)

Essex County

  • Danvers
  • Haverhill
  • Lawrence
  • Pentucket Regional (Groveland, Merrimac, West Newbury)
  • Salem

Franklin County

  • Frontier Regional (Conway, Deerfield, Sunderland, Whately)
  • Gill-Montague
  • Greenfield
  • Mohawk Trail Regional (Ashfield, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Hawley, Heath, Plainfield, Shelburne)
  • New Salem-Wendell

Hampden County

  • Holyoke
  • Palmer

Hampshire County

  • Amherst-Pelham
  • Easthampton
  • Mohawk Trail Regional (Ashfield, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Hawley, Heath, Plainfield, Shelburne)

Middlesex County

  • Arlington
  • Billerica
  • Blackstone-Millville
  • Groton-Dunstable
  • Holliston
  • Hudson
  • Lincoln-Sudbury
  • Malden
  • Marlborough
  • Medford
  • Melrose
  • Nashoba Regional (Bolton, Lancaster, Stow)
  • Newton
  • North Middlesex Regional (Ashby, Pepperell, Townsend)
  • Somerville
  • Sudbury
  • Wakefield
  • Watertown
  • Wayland
  • Weston
  • Winchester
  • Woburn

Norfolk County

  • Braintree
  • Medfield
  • Medway
  • Sharon
  • Westwood

Plymouth County

  • Carver
  • Freetown-Lakeville
  • Norwell
  • Scituate

Suffolk County

  • Winthrop

Worcester County

  • Douglas
  • Dudley-Charlton
  • Gardner
  • Grafton
  • Harvard
  • Nashoba Regional (Bolton, Lancaster, Stow)
  • Southbridge
  • Uxbridge
  • Webster

Charter schools and regional technical schools

  • Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School (Franklin)
  • Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School (Upton)
  • Blue Hills Regional Technical School (Canton)
  • Boston Preparatory Charter Public School (Hyde Park)
  • Boston Renaissance Charter Public School (Hyde Park)
  • Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School (East Harwich)
  • Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School (Danvers)
  • Greater Lawrence Technical School (Andover)
  • Hill View Montessori Charter Public School (Haverhill)
  • Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School (Easthampton)
  • Innovation Academy Charter School (Tyngsborough)
  • Keefe Regional Technical School (Framingham)
  • Learning First Charter Public School (Worcester)
  • Lowell Community Charter Public School
  • Map Academy Charter School (Plymouth)
  • MATCH Charter Public School (Boston)
  • Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School (Fitchburg)
  • New Heights Charter School of Brockton
  • Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical High School (Palmer)
  • Phoenix Charter Academies
  • Pioneer Charter Schools of Science
  • Roxbury Preparatory Charter School
  • South Shore Charter Public School (Norwell)
  • Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School (Franklin)
  • Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School (Bourne)

Special education schools and collaboratives

  • ACCEPT Education Collaborative
  • Cape Cod Collaborative
  • CAPS Collaborative
  • Center for Applied Behavioral Instruction (Worcester)
  • Chamberlain International School (Middleborough)
  • Children’s Center for Communication (Beverly)
  • Collaborative for Educational Services
  • CREST Collaborative
  • Compass School (Dorchester)
  • Crystal Springs School (Freetown)
  • Dearborn Academy (Newton)
  • Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health
  • Farr Academy (Cambridge)
  • Hopeful Journeys Educational Center (Beverly)
  • The Learning Center for the Deaf (Framingham)
  • Italian Home for Children (Jamaica Plain)
  • Ivy Street School (Brookline)
  • JRI Schools and Academies
  • Latham School (Brewster)
  • Manville School (Boston)
  • Melmark New England (Andover)
  • NEARI School (Easthampton)
  • Nashoba Learning Group (Bedford)
  • New England Academy (Beverly)
  • New England Center for Children (Southborough)
  • Professional Center for Child Development (Andover)
  • READS Collaborative
  • RFK Academy (Springfield)
  • Riverview School (East Sandwich)
  • Stetson School (Barre)
  • South Shore Educational Collaborative
  • Southern Worcester County Educational Collaborative
  • The Education Cooperative
  • The May Center Schools for Autism and Developmental Disabilities (West Springfield, Wilmington)
  • Valley Collaborative

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