MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The state of Vermont is going to be providing free rapid COVID-19 tests to the state’s regulated child-care centers.

The “Tests for Tots” program, which was announced Friday, is designed to allow the centers to test children and staff when a positive COVID-19 case is detected at their program.

It’s a spinoff of the “Test to Stay” program that has been an important tool in Vermont’s K-12 schools that tests unvaccinated, asymptomatic students and staff who are close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case. If those students show no symptoms of COVID-19 they can go to school, but must be tested at the beginning of each day. Students who don’t participate in the program must stay home from school to quarantine.

Gov. Phil Scott says the “Tests for Tots” program will decrease the burden of contact tracing for child care program staff, while limiting the impact of quarantines on children, their families, and staff.

Tests for Tots will offer tests for children between the ages of 2 and 5, as well as for child care program staff. They can be administered at home.

Child care providers can enroll in the program immediately.

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