ST. PAUL — With a new academic year underway, teachers, school staff members and child care workers are being sent registration materials for free COVID-19 saliva tests, Minnesota officials announced Wednesday, Sept. 2.

More than 250,000 tests are expected to be completed as part of the state's plan to resume school amid the coronavirus pandemic. The state has offered to pay for tests as a last resort when insurers refuse to cover them.

All told, the testing program is estimated to cost $6 million.

The State Department of Education has emailed unique registration codes to the employees of Minnesota’s school districts, charter schools, tribal schools and nonpublic schools. The State Department of Human Services, meanwhile, will provide codes to workers at licensed child care facilities.

Individuals eligible for them are not required to take them before returning to work, but are encouraged to take them when they believe they have been exposed to COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, or exhibit symptoms of it.

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Officials are offering the tests through a partnership with Vault Health and Infinity Biologix. Walz's administration has said it intends to make free saliva tests available to all Minnesotans through the same agreement.