New York state is making COVID-19 rapid test kits and masks available to school districts and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) by request as the academic year begins, Gov. Kathy Hochul's office announced Tuesday.

This comes amid reports of the new BA.2.86 variant and following a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations over the summer. 

“Thanks to the hard work of New York schools, teachers, and parents, we have come a long way to ensure students can safely return to the classroom,” Hochul said in a statement. “Frequent testing for COVID-19 is an important part of keeping our kids safe and preventing an outbreak, and I will continue working to ensure our school districts have the resources they need to provide a safe, in-person learning environment for our students.” 

The governor's office said the state will conduct outreach to the state Education Department and BOCES to survey needs for test kits and masks. After the requests have been submitted, the state will deliver the requested tests and N-95 and KN-95 masks to each BOCES for distribution to school districts. 

Most school districts in New York return this week.


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