By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — Teachers and public school employees in Massachusetts will be able to test themselves at home for COVID-19 before returning to the classroom in the new year, the state said Wednesday.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is sending 200,000 COVID-19 rapid tests to every school district, enough for schools to give two tests to every employee.

“DESE strongly encourages all school personnel take one of the at-home antigen tests no more than 24 hours before they return to work to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the department said in a statement.

The department bought the tests from an out-of-state vendor, and the shipment is expected to arrive on Thursday. The state expects that will be enough time for the tests to reach teachers and staff by this weekend.

State education officials say they remain committed to keeping schools open during the surge of COVID cases.

“Doing everything we can to keep students learning in classrooms is critical,” Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley said in a statement. “Providing these tests to teachers and staff is one more thing we can do to ensure that is possible.”

CBSBoston.com Staff