Thousands of students in 43 public school districts and 39 state-approved special education programs, private or charter schools will be getting weekly COVID tests as part of the new state program.

The program, a joint partnership between the Department of Public Health and the state Department of Education, is being called Project COVID DeteCT. The number of students who signed up was still a moving target Friday, but it’s expected to be in the thousands. 

The program will offer free COVID testing to all students attending public school in grades K-6, as well as unvaccinated students in grades 7-12 in some of the largest school districts including Bridgeport, Danbury, Hartford, New Britain, New Haven, Norwalk, Stamford, or Waterbury.

The Department of Public Health says screening can help keep schools open and prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Parents had until the end of this week to consent to the testing, which involves a lower nasal swab, not a “brain tickler.”

“Testing will only be completed on unvaccinated students whose parents/guardians have signed and submitted the Parent Consent Form,” according to state officials. “Once signed, the consent form will cover testing throughout the year.”

The program doesn’t ask for insurance information and the testing will be conducted through Quest. 

According to information sent home to parents “this information will be shared only for public health purposes, which may include notifying close contacts of your child if they have been exposed to COVID-19, and taking other steps to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in your school community. Sharing information about your child will only be done in accordance with applicable laws and city policies protecting student privacy and the security of your child’s data.”