Montgomery ISD students and staff who experience symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with a COVID-19 case will have the option to take a free rapid COVID-19 test beginning in mid-January, district officials announced Dec. 15.

MISD will offer the tests through the Texas Education Agency's rapid-testing program. The tests will be self-administered via a nasal swab and are 97%-98% accurate, said Amy Busby, the district's director of special programs. Tests are not open to the general public and are optional for students and staff.

“We would never require anyone to have to take this test; it’s just one of those things that’s a courtesy and a service that we can provide,” Busby said.

Details for how, when and where testing will be provided will be available "soon," she said. The purpose of testing is to identify COVID-19 cases as soon as possible and without a financial burden to the individual, as well as reducing the period of time the individual is required to quarantine so they can return to in-person learning.

“If we can reduce that time period, then we can get them back to in-person instruction as quickly as possible, which is our goal," Busby said.

Tests will arrive at MISD each month depending on how much supply the district needs.

"That way we don’t have anything ever just sitting on our shelves not getting used,” she said.

Additionally, MISD is revising its quarantine rules based on amended guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC adjusted its guidance Dec. 2 to state individuals experiencing no symptoms of COVID-19 may cease their quarantine after 10 days instead of the original 14-day guidance if no test is administered and after seven days if receiving a negative test result.

Busby said the two-week period after initial contact should still be used to monitor for symptoms.

“14 days is still the golden time period where you need to be monitoring yourself," she said.